By Terrance Turner
Jan. 21, 2023
Today, the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Playoff game. The Chiefs pushed past a resurgent Jaguars team, led by their resilient quarterback. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and had to leave the field. But he fought his way back, returning in the third quarter and rallying his team to victory.
From the very start, Mahomes dazzled fans and commentators with his unusual play. On the first drive, he dashed past a blitz and threw one of his signature sidearm passes. Two plays later, he leapt into the air and tossed a jump pass to tight end Travis Kelce — despite getting hit in the back.
Mahomes found Kelce again later in the red zone. On 3rd and 6, rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd rushed Mahomes and pulled him to the ground. But as Lloyd spun him down, Mahomes completed a pass to Kelce for first and goal. Then he threw one-handed to Kelce, who turned and ran into the end zone.
The Chiefs took a 7-0 lead. The Jaguars answered with a scoring drive of their own. And then everything changed.
On the Chiefs’ second drive, Mahomes again played gamely, evading defenses and making great throws. But on a first-down play, with 2:40 remaining in the first quarter, Mahomes got sandwiched by Jags defenders. Jaguars pass-rusher Arden Key jumped up to tackle Mahomes, and defensive tackle Corey Peters pulled him down. Mahomes’ leg was bent awkwardly, and Key landed on his ankle.
Mahomes got up limping and went to the sideline.
The Chiefs called a 30-second timeout. But when the timeout ended, Mahomes ran his way back on the field, limp and all. He battled through another few plays. But with just twelve seconds left in the first quarter, he hopped his way back to the sideline, signaling to the Chiefs that he needed help. He hobbled his way through the start of the second; the Chiefs settled for a field goal to go up 10-7.
As the second quarter wore on, Mahomes stayed on the sideline. Chiefs coach Randy Reid and other staff appeared to be telling Mahomes to come out. Mahomes vehemently disagreed. “NO!” he insisted. You can see the exchange here. NSFW.
Mahomes got overruled. The Chiefs sent him to the locker room. Chad Henne came in at quarterback. 37-year-old Henne had a tall task ahead of him. But he delivered, throwing to Kelce for his second touchdown of the day.
The Chiefs led 17-10 at halftime.
Right at the start of the third quarter, Patrick Mahomes ran out onto the field. The crowd erupted in cheers. (X-rays on his ankle were negative. It appears to be a high-ankle sprain.) On 3rd and 1, he scrambled for a first down — before crumpling to the ground and hopping his way back to the huddle. The Jaguars defense forced a punt.
The offense for Jacksonville came alive in the fourth, with RB Travis Etienne scoring on a touchdown run. After the extra point kick, it was a three-point game. Kansas City led 20-17, and they had to score to extend their lead. Mahomes delivered, making another jump pass (on one foot!) to wide receiver Marques Valdez-Scantling for the touchdown.
Jaguars had a chance to pull within three with six minutes left in the quarter. Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence displayed unbelievable toughness, running right into a Chiefs defender for first and goal. But on the very next play, his teammate Jamal Agnew fumbled the ball and sealed the game for Kansas City.
The Chiefs held on to win, 27-20. Tight end Travis Kelce caught a career-high 14 catches and two TDs; Mahomes finished 22-of-30 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
After the game, Patrick Mahomes gave his teammates credit from helping him gut it out through a hard-fought win. “Offensive line kept me clean in the pocket, knowing that I couldn’t move,” he said. “And guys made plays around me.”
When asked about his confrontation with Chiefs coaching staff, Mahomes answered: “I didn’t wanna go. They kinda gave me the ultimatum: I wasn’t gonna come back in there if I didn’t go [into the locker room]. They were trying to take care of me; we have a lot of great people here,” Mahomes said. “But it’s going to take a lot to get me out of a ballgame.”