The Cincinnati Bengals shrugged off driving snow to defeat the Buffalo Bills 27-10 on the road on Sunday, setting up a repeat AFC Championship game clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Last season, the Bengals beat the Chiefs in overtime in Kansas City before going on to lose the Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Rams. They are now just a win away from a chance to atone for that loss and claim the franchise's first league championship.
While the Bengals will again be slight underdogs against Patrick Mahomes and company, they showed all their qualities of tough, no-nonsense football, with their offensive line giving outstanding protection to quarterback Joe Burrow.
Burrow completed 23 of 36 passes, throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns while running-back Joe Mixon put up 105 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
"It was a complete game from everybody, offense, defense, special teams, domination from start to finish, that is what we expected," Burrow told CBS television.
"But the job is not finished, we have got another big one next week on the road, I'm excited for it," he added.
The Bengals set the tone from the opening series with Burrow leading his team on a six-play, 79-yard drive completed with a 28-yard pass to Ja'marr Chase.
Cincinnati soon had a 14-0 first quarter lead with Burrow finding an open Hayden Hurst with a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Injured Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest in the abandoned regular season game against the Bengals earlier this month, was watching the game from a suite and received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.
But despite the home field advantage, the Bills struggled to get their offense moving until quarterback Josh Allen got them on the scoreboard with a one-yard rush at the end of a 15-play drive in the second quarter.
The Bengals thought they had a third touchdown just before half-time with a superb Burrow pass to Chase at the back of the end-zone but the catch was ruled incomplete after review and Cincinnati had to settle for a field goal which sent them in 17-7 up at half-time.
A Bills field goal brought them within a score of levelling the game but the Bengals were playing with a smart, disciplined approach and they extended their lead when the tireless Mixon finished off a 12 play drive with a one-yard rush.
The NFC Championship game will see the Philadelphia Eagles, who beat the New York Giants on Saturday, take on the winner of the game later on Sunday between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.