Chiefs Praise Patrick Mahomes Following AFC Championship Win

Multiple people in the Chiefs organization spoke highly of Mahomes after a gutsy performance.

The Kansas City Chiefs faced a tall task in ending their losing streak against the Cincinnati Bengals, and parts of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game were dire. Thanks to some of the team’s best players stepping up, though, Kansas City did enough in the end to advance to the Super Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons.

The play of quarterback Patrick Mahomes was a major reason why.

Playing just eight days after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the Divisional Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mahomes completed 29 of his 43 pass attempts for 326 yards and a pair of touchdowns en route to the win. He did all of it without a stable rushing attack — non-Mahomes Chiefs rushers toted the ball 17 times for 36 yards — and with multiple top weapons going down due to injury. Despite that, he played through the pain and gutted out a win against a defense that has historically given him some trouble and after the game, head coach Andy Reid praised his star quarterback. 

“He was pure grit, he and (Travis) Kelce,” Reid said. “For Pat to do what he did and then to have that run at the end… I can’t say enough. He is the MVP, in my eyes.”

That run, a five-yard scramble with 17 seconds left in the game that was capped off by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Joseph Ossai, was a very late turning point. Without the penalty, Kansas City still would’ve had to drive a bit more down the field before presumably kicking a long field goal. Instead, the run and extra yardage tacked on via penalty allowed Harrison Butker’s game-winning boot to be from 45 yards out. Mahomes found a way to contribute to the win in a huge way, and Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt echoed Reid’s sentiment. 

“Andy and I were talking about Patrick earlier in the week, and I mentioned to him that the great ones always find a way to get it done, particularly when they’re facing adversity,” Hunt said. “Patrick certainly showed that tonight.”

General manager Brett Veach shared the same perspective as Hunt, saying that all great players face different things (such as roster turnover or injuries) that they must navigate along their paths to successful careers. This past offseason was perhaps the most challenging of Mahomes’s tenure, as star wideout Tyreek Hill was traded and Mahomes was left having to build chemistry with a group of mostly new receivers. That work still isn’t done, even 20-plus weeks into the season, but it’s going along well. That was adversity set No. 1.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones used the words “warrior” and “resilient” when describing Mahomes after the game. Not only did Mahomes fight through the nagging ankle ailment, but Kelce’s back was also bothering him and a trio of wide receivers — JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman — all exited the game with injuries of their own. That was adversity set No. 2. Ignoring his own pain, Mahomes spent a large chunk of the second half with the likes of Skyy Moore and Marcus Kemp as his primary receiving options outside of Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. 

In typical Mahomes fashion, he set the standard for this game immediately following the Jaguars win. Just a couple of hours after suffering one of the worst lower-body injuries a quarterback can endure, Mahomes said he planned to play in the AFC Championship Game. That expectation didn’t change throughout the week, and he operated at a high level on Sunday despite limping after multiple plays. When asked about whether there was ever any doubt that Mahomes would suit up for this game, Kelce said that possibility never crossed his mind. 

“I mean, there was no doubt in my mind that he wasn’t going to be out there,” Kelce said. “I knew for a fact that he was going to give this city, this organization and all the guys he goes to work with every single day everything he has. Sure enough, even on that last play, you saw it all come together. You guys know how much I love that guy. It’s moments like that that make it that much more special to be his teammate and that much more special to be a part of the Kansas City Chiefs organization.”

Now, Kelce and his brother Jason will square off in Super Bowl 57. Another storyline to monitor is Reid facing his former team: the Philadelphia Eagles. A third thing to watch is how Mahomes’s ankle progresses over the next couple of weeks leading up to the game. If this was what he’s capable of at well less than 100%, a two-week rest period could work even more wonders. According to Hunt, his quarterback has already played the hero role once this postseason. 

“Watching him play, I was like, ‘Superman put his cape on,'” Hunt said. Tremendous performance all the way around by Patrick.”