Could a hobbled Patrick Mahomes actually turn out to be a good thing for the Chiefs as they prepare to face the Bengals in the AFC championship game?
According to Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown, such a scenario might not be as detrimental as it appears on the surface.
A high-ankle sprain Mahomes suffered early in Kansas City’s 27–20 divisional win over Jacksonville on Saturday has cast doubt on the star quarterback’s availability entering the highly-anticipated Jan. 29 rematch against Cincinnati. However, as Brown explained to Peter King of NBC Sports, Mahomes’s injury, while obviously far from ideal, may end up having a galvanizing effect on the team, specifically the offensive line.
“When something like that happens, it forces us up front to play even harder to make sure he doesn’t get hit,” Brown said. “That’s one thing about it—you get motivated to up your game even more.”
Brown added to his optimistic outlook on Mahomes’s injury by praising the toughness of his QB and the rest of his teammates, and their shared passion for the game. The four-time Pro Bowler also emphasized the team’s desire of wanting to “rally behind” their ailing leader and play better against the Bengals come next Sunday.
“We have a ton of grit instilled in us here, and we love the sport and love each other. I don’t know how to explain it, but we just want to rally behind 15. He’s the epitome of what our team is,” Brown said.
Hearing the veteran tackle choosing to focus on the silver lining in, arguably, the biggest storyline of the week is encouraging in the short-term, but it still remains to be seen how Mahomes’s ankle responds over the next week.
The latest update concerning the former MVP’s status came from Chiefs coach Andy Reid on Monday morning. Reid told reporters Mahomes has “worked hard in the treatment and is doing O.K.” but the team still planned to re-evaluate the 27-year-old following Wednesday’s practice and see how things progress from there.
Despite the ongoing speculation, however, Mahomes has maintained that he’ll take the field in what will be the franchise’s fifth straight AFC title game. After beating the Jags, Mahomes said in his postgame interview that he’ll “be good to go”, an expectation Reid touched on Monday when he said the QB believes he is “going to play” in the matchup.
Mahomes was listed as questionable during Saturday’s win over the Jaguars after having his ankle bent awkwardly at the end of a play late in the first quarter. After finishing the drive at the start of the second quarter, Mahomes exited for an evaluation before returning after halftime to finish the game; he later shared the team gave him an “ultimatum” regarding going to the locker room to be evaluated prior to his return.
Mahomes finished the game 22-of-30 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. In his relief, backup Chad Henne put forth a steady performance, completing five of seven pass attempts for 23 yards and a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce.