Patrick Mahomes sustained a right high ankle sprain in the Kansas City Chiefs’ divisional playoff win over the Jaguars, a person familiar with the nature of the injury told The Associated Press on Sunday, but the All-Pro quarterback expects to play in next weekend’s AFC championship game.
Mahomes was hurt late in the first quarter Saturday when a Jacksonville defender landed on him. X-rays taken during the game came back negative, and Mahomes returned after halftime to lead Kansas City to the 27-20 victory.
Mahomes underwent an MRI on Sunday and it showed no structural damage, a person familiar with the results told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team did not disclose the test results.
“I don’t want to jump to things right now, but let’s just see how it goes here the next couple days,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Saturday night. “It’s going to be sore, I know, but let’s see where he’s at. He’s had this before and he was able to keep pushing through, actually against Jacksonville whenever — a couple of years ago, same type of deal.
“The main thing is that he's safe," Reid said, “or as safe as you can be on a football field. That's the important thing.”
The Chiefs will host Cincinnati, which beat Buffalo on Sunday, at Arrowhead Stadium in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The Bengals took that one in overtime, erasing an 11-point halftime deficit to win, 27-24.
Mahomes said after the game Saturday night that his ankle “feels better than I thought it would feel now.”
“Obviously, I have a lot of adrenaline going right now. We'll see how it feels but I'll hop right into treatment tonight and try to do whatever I can to be as close to 100% by next week,” he said. “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.”
Still, high ankle sprains can be potentially serious injuries. Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire sustained one in late November and landed on injured reserve, and only last week did he return to practice.
“Pain is pain,” Mahomes said. “You're going to have to deal with it.”
Mahomes missed most of the second quarter against the Jaguars but still threw for 195 yards and two scores. The second of them was a throw to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fourth quarter that ultimately provided the winning margin.
“I’ve got to tell you, 15 is tough as nails, being able to come back in,” Chiefs safety Justin Reid said. “Even staying in after the injury and handing the ball off while he’s basically hobbling on one leg. The guy — that just shows you his love for the game and his character and his will to just be out there for his team and doing everything he can to help us win.”
Chad Henne has another moment when needed
While Mahomes was out, backup Chad Henne also led the Chiefs on a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown drive.
The 37-year-old journeyman has hung around the league for nearly 15 years, his days as a starter in Miami and Jacksonville long distant memories. It would’ve been easy to grow complacent as a backup the past five seasons, yet the consummate professional has learned to be ready for anything.
“Definitely, nerves are high,” Henne said afterward, “but once you get in the game and get going, it’s just like, repetition. It’s not like I’ve never done it before. I played in enough games. When the opportunity is called upon, I’m ready.”
Henne proved once more the importance of a capable backup quarterback, an often-thankless job typically filled by failed starters, players long past their prime, or young prospects not yet ready to take over a team.
Henne fits that mold. The Jaguars didn’t do him any favors, backing the Chiefs up to their own 2 with a punt. But the confidence that Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy had in him was evident by their first play call: a pass play from his own end zone.
Henne completed it to Travis Kelce, one of 14 on his night. Then he hit Kadarius Toney later in the drive, and found Kelce twice more, on one of them getting crushed late by Key and drawing a personal foul penalty. On the 12th and final play of the drive, Henne hit the All-Pro tight end one last time for the touchdown.
“To come in a hostile game, backed up to your 2, go 98 yards,” Kelce said, “that just shows the type of competitor he is.”
It wasn’t the first time Henne has saved a season. In another divisional game two years ago, when Mahomes was forced into the concussion protocol, he guided the Chiefs through the final two quarters to a 22-17 win over the Browns.
“It’s not a one-man show,” Henne said. “There’s a lot of great guys on our offense that really stepped up and helped me.”
Clock starts on Giants’ decisions with Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones
Speaking the day after his New York Giants were routed, 38-7, on Saturday night in Philadelphia, running back Saquon Barkley said he is realistic about the potential of a long-term deal that will keep him with the organization that took him second overall in 2018. “I’m not really too concerned about resetting any markets or anything like that,” said Barkley, who set a career high with 1,312 yards in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. The Giants could franchise the 25-year-old, who played 16 games for the first time since his rookie season, paying him $11 million for 2023 rather than coming to terms on an extension. “Having two years filled up with injuries and having a season not performing to the level I know I can perform doesn’t help, but I think I was able to show the type of caliber a player I am [this year].” New York also must concern itself with quarterback Daniel Jones, who had his fifth-year option declined before the season, then set career highs in completion percentage (67.2), yards (3,205), and fewest interceptions (5). Saying he’d “love to be back,” the Duke product called conversations with coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen about the future as “positive” . . . NFL Network reported the Jets have put in a request to interview Buffalo quarterbacks coach Joe Brady for their offensive coordinator position. Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley is among candidates they’ve already spoken to . . . Baltimore has requested to interview Seattle quarterbacks coach Dave Canales and Minnesota passing game coordinator Brian Angelichio for their offensive coordinator position, ESPN reported. The Ravens fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Thursday, and had already planned to speak with Rams passing game coordinator Zac Robinson and former Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who’s been with Cleveland the past three years . . . The Colts announced they’d interviewed Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka for their head coaching position, the 11th confirmed candidate they’d spoken with.