If one thing shined through during Saturday’s Chiefs win, it was toughness from Mahomes.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Divisional Round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, much like the team’s Divisional Round win over the Cleveland Browns just two years ago, saw Patrick Mahomes leave due to an injury and get replaced by Chad Henne. This time around, Mahomes was able to return to action and lead the team to a win.
In Kansas City’s victory, Mahomes suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter that led to a timeout in order for him to gather himself and attempt to return. Finishing off a drive that ended in a field goal, the star signal-caller was in obvious pain and discomfort as he limped around and favored his right leg pretty heavily. Mahomes was replaced by Chad Henne for the rest of the first half and got halftime X-rays that came back negative. Mahomes resisted leaving the game at first, though, and head coach Andy Reid admitted that it was a battle to get him to agree to extended evaluations on the ankle. “It was hard getting him out of the game, first of all,” Reid said. “He wanted to fight.”
Reid, who worked with his training staff to come up with an in-game plan for how to handle Mahomes’s injury, cited his quarterback’s competitive nature as a reason why he was a “tough nut” to crack in terms of convincing him to briefly exit the game. Mahomes said Kansas City presented him with an ultimatum — he could either go back to the locker room for X-rays or simply not return for the rest of the game. After getting the X-rays and proving to the staff on the sideline that he could protect himself and the ankle, he was allowed to join his teammates back out on the playing field.
What Mahomes accomplished in totality, while not eye-popping in the stat sheet, was nothing short of brilliant. He completed 22 of his 30 pass attempts for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a throw to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling that served as a friendly reminder to the rest of the NFL. Even on one leg, he was capable of delivering MVP-level moments when it mattered the most. After the game, Mahomes said his ankle was feeling better than expected and also added that he’ll be getting straight into treatment for it on Saturday night. When asked about leaving the game and coming back, Mahomes went through his thought process.
“I mean, I’m not coming out of a playoff game unless they take me out,” Mahomes said. “I love this sport too much. I love this game and I love playing with my teammates and being able to go out there and enjoy it together. We prepare all year to be in the playoffs and play in these games. I’m glad that I was able to get back in the game. I just love competing in this sport. Pain is pain, and you’re going to have to deal with it either way.”
With the Saturday win, Kansas City is going to the AFC Championship Game for the fifth year in a row. In all five seasons Mahomes has been the full-time starting quarterback, the Chiefs have gotten to the AFC’s final playoff game before the Super Bowl. That’s a historic feat for such a young player, and the likely 2022-23 NFL MVP will have an opportunity to continue building on his already impressive playoff resume in a week. Reid isn’t exactly sure what the next few days will look like for his quarterback, but he’s glad that he avoided a major injury.
“We’ll see,” Reid said. “I don’t want to jump to things right now, but let’s just see how it goes here in the next couple of days. It’s going to be sore, but let’s see where he’s at. He’s had this before and was able to push through it — actually, against Jacksonville a couple of years ago, the same type of deal. He pushed through that. The main thing is that he’s safe, or at least as safe as you can be on a football field. That’s the important thing.”