Super Bowl 2019: New England Patriots to face LA Rams in NFL finale

New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams have booked their spots in the 2019 Super Bowl, with nerve-wracking overtime victories in their respective NFL conference championship finals.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cooly guided his team home 37-31 on the road over the Kansas City Chiefs, with Rex Burkhead converting a two-yard run into a touchdown with the first possession of extra time.

New England will make their third straight Super Bowl appearance and their fourth in five years. They have won the Vince Lombardi Trophy five times, most recently in 2016.  

Earlier, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein slotted the winning field goal from 57 yards, securing their fourth appearance in American football's annual showpiece and their first since 2001.

They won the Super Bowl in 1999, as the St Louis Rams.

In the AFC championship, the Patriots led 14-0 at half-time and appeared to have the game well in hand, but Kansas City came storming back, eventually taking a 21-17 advantage midway through the final quarter.

LA Rams celebrate victory
LA Rams celebrate victory in the NFC championship. Photo credit: Reuters.

Brady, 41, twice brought his side back and Burkhead rushing for a go-ahead touchdown with just 39 seconds left on the clock.

But that was enough time for Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker to tied the scores at 31-31 in regulation.

New England won the toss and elected to receive the ball. Brady clinically drove 75 yards over 13 plays and Burkhead crossed for the gamewinner.

Earlier, New Orleans, led by veteran quarterback Drew Brees, stamped their authority early on the NFC championship game, running out to a 13-0 first-quarter lead, through field goals from Wil Lutz and a Garrett Griffin touchdown reception.

But the Rams hung tough, closing to within two points at half-time, with Zuerlein kicking a field goal and running back Todd Gurley II finding the end-zone from six yards out.

Both Brees and LA counterpart Jared Goff threw for short touchdowns in the third quarter, and the final stanza of regulation time became a kicking duel, with Zuerlein evening the scores at 20-20 and Lutz giving the Saints an edge with only 1m 45s left.

Saints coach Sean Payton was left fuming, after an obvious defensive interference on one of his receivers went uncalled. A penalty would have allowed his team to run the clock down to just a few seconds, before kicking the go-ahead goal.

But instead, with the last possession, Goff drove the Rams to within kicking range and Zuerlein slotted from 48 yards to force overtime. 

They now await the winners of the AFC Championship between New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, being played on Monday afternoon (NZ time).

The key play came early in the added time, when Brees was pressured into a wayward throw, which was picked off by Rams defender James Johnson III in midfield.

Los Angeles cribbed a few more yards, before Zuerlein unleashed a wobbly kick that straightened and sailed through the uprights for victory. 

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Join us on February 4 (NZ time) for live updates of Super Bowl 2019 in Atlanta.

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