Patrick Mahomes did not want to be pulled from Saturday’s AFC divisional round game against the Jaguars following his first-quarter ankle injury. It wasn’t until coach Andy Reid told him he would have to be X-rayed in order to return to the game that the star QB agreed to head to the locker room.
But once back on the field in the second half, it was clear Mahomes was not at 100 percent. He hobbled handing the ball off, and his usual scrambling ability and pocket movement were severely limited.
However, the 2022 NFL MVP front-runner still did enough to help lead his team to the 27-20 victory over the Jaguars to send Kansas City to the AFC championship game for a fifth consecutive season.
“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. I love playing with my teammates and being able to go out there and enjoy it together. And we prepare all year to be in the playoffs and play in these games, and I’m glad I was able to get back in the game.”
Mahomes came up hobbling after getting tackled in the first quarter against the Jaguars. He needed to be looked at by the training staff. The Chiefs used a timeout to make sure he could return to the field, but after the drive ended, he was told to go to the locker room for further examination. Backup Chad Henne filled in the remainder of the half, leading the team to a 98-yard touchdown drive. Mahomes came back in at the start of the second half and did not miss a snap the rest of the game.
Mahomes said he did not receive any treatment because of the lack of time. The training staff just wrapped up the ankle to keep the swelling down.
“They made me do a couple things in the locker room just so I could move and protect myself if anything kind of came, pressure came, whatever it was, and I mean, a credit to the team, offensive line did a great job in that second half protecting me. I got the ball out of my hands quickly and guys made plays,” Mahomes said.
The return to the field wasn’t perfect, Mahomes admitted. He said there were a few throws where he wasn’t able to plant the way he typically does and that because of that, he missed a few throws he believes he would typically make.
But he said that after the first few drives, he made a few throws that he believed help build confidence in the coaching staff that he could protect himself and still be effective.
“Obviously I missed some throws I probably think I could have made if I would have been in the right foot position, but luckily for me, I’m not in the right foot position all the time, so I’m able to make some throws like that anyways,” Mahomes said.
Mahomes’ footwork was put to the test early in his return to the field. On the third play of the second half, Mahomes couldn’t find anyone open on a third-and-1 and scrambled for 4 yards to pick up the first down.
“That kind of told me he was OK, he was thinking he was OK,” Reid said after the game. “I didn’t want him to do that, but I didn’t tell him. You can’t tell somebody that they can’t do that, then they’ve got to get out of the game.”
Later in the game, Mahomes made a jump throw to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for his only second-half touchdown, which extended the Chiefs’ lead to 27-17.
“I went down, I kind of jumped and landed on the same ankle, but I had to find a way to get the ball in the end zone and Marquez was there and I needed to make the throw and he stepped up and made a big play there at the end of the game to win it,” Mahomes said.
One foot np
— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2023
Mahomes has his eyes set on the AFC championship next weekend against the Bills or Bengals. He said he would begin receiving treatment Saturday night to try to get “as close to 100 percent by next week.”
“Luckily for us, we played the early game on Saturday, so we get an extra almost half a day that I can let that ankle rest,” Mahomes said.