Regardless of ankle harm, Mahomes leads Chiefs to win

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a right ankle injury in the first quarter of a divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, and he later left for the locker room with training staff before returning to action in the third quarter.

Mahomes engineered two scoring drives in the second half and led Kansas City to a 27-20 victory. The Chiefs will face the winner of Sunday’s Cincinnati BengalsBuffalo Bills matchup in the Championship Game next week.

“It’s a credit to the guys around me. Guys kept me clean in the pocket, and knowing that my team made great around me,” Mahomes said in his postgame, on-field interview with NBC. “That’s a great team does.”

During the second quarter, the Chiefs announced the injury and listed Mahomes as questionable to return. But the former NFL MVP tossed warmup throws and took the field with his teammates after the second-half kickoff.

On a first-down play from midfield with 2:40 remaining in the first quarter, Mahomes fell awkwardly under pressure, following a 4-yard completion to Blake Bell. Mahomes was moving up in the pocket when Jaguars pass-rusher Arden Key landed on his ankle.

At the end of the quarter, Mahomes went to the bench and had his right ankle taped, returning to the field in time for the next play.

Mahomes finished that possession, and the Chiefs settled for a field goal, taking a 10-7 lead with 14:09 remaining in the half. He was 12-of-15 passing for 84 yards with a touchdown when he departed.

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During the ensuing possession for the Jaguars, Mahomes flipped off his jacket and trotted into the locker room area. Jacksonville punted on that possession, while Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne warmed up on the sidelines.

Later in that next drive, with Henne under center, Mahomes returned to the sidelines, again wearing a jacket. The Chiefs scored on Henne’s first drive, giving them a 17-7 lead.

“Listen, he went down there and got them right in the end zone,” Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson said of Henne during his halftime interview on NBC. “So, we have to button up here at halftime.”

And though the Jaguars did force punts in the second half, Mahomes ultimately had enough to keep Jacksonville at bay.

It wasn’t the first time the 37-year-old Henne had been pressed into duty in the playoffs. During a divisional-round game against the Cleveland Browns in January 2021, Mahomes went into the concussion protocol in the third quarter. Henne went 6-of-8 passing for 66 yards down the stretch, including an audacious fourth-down pass to Tyreek Hill that helped the Chiefs to a 22-17 victory and a spot in the Championship Game.

Mahomes — who was quick to deflect the credit after Saturday’s contest to Henne as well as the Chiefs’ training staff — finished 22-of-30 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

“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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.