Patrick Mahomes was forced to rely on his badly sprained right ankle rather than his
strong right arm when the Kansas City Chiefs
to win the AFC championship.
The All-Pro quarterback, missing three wide receivers to injuries and battered
himself, took off on a third-down play near midfield in another gut-check game with
the Cincinnati Bengals. Mahomes strained to reach the mark he needed and was
headed out of bounds when he felt the hands of Joseph Ossai send him sprawling into
The mad dash, coupled with the 15-yard penalty for a late hit, was all Kansas City
Harrison Butker strode confidently onto the field, sent a 45-yard kick through cold,
gusting wind over the crossbar with 3 seconds to go, and put the Chiefs back in the
Super Bowl for the third time in four years with a 23-20 victory.
“I don’t think we have any cigars,” Mahomes said with a smile, “but we’ll be ready to
go in the Super Bowl.”
It was vindication for the AFC West champions, who had lost three straight to their
newfound nemeses, including a three-point overtime loss to Cincinnati in last year’s
conference title game. All of those defeats were by three points.
Now, the Chiefs are headed back to the big game.
Awaiting them is coach Andy Reid’s old team, the Eagles, in the first matchup of
Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts.
It will also feature a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end
Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.
Read Also:Chiefs’ Mahomes sustained high ankle sprain
“I’ve watched them all year,” Mahomes said.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us. But I’m going to celebrate this first.”
Mahomes, who hurt his ankle against Jacksonville in the divisional round, threw for
326 yards and two touchdowns, even though he was missing three of his wide
receivers to injuries by the end. Marquez Valdes-Scantling led with 116 yards and a
touchdown, while Travis Kelce — bad back and all — had seven catches for 78 yards
and a score.
“It’s a tough bunch. My heart goes out to them, man, they’re tough guys,” Reid said.
“They worked so hard this week. Pat and Kelce were both banged up a little bit. They
pushed through and great things happened.”
The Chiefs also managed to shut the mouths of the Bengals, some of whom had taken
to calling their home “Burrowhead” for Joe Burrow, who had never lost to Kansas
Even Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval started in on the trash talk.
“I’ve got some wise words for that Cincinnati mayor,” Kelce said. “Know your role and
shut your mouth, you jabroni!”
Burrow, who was sacked five times and wobbly by the end, finished with 270 yards
passing to go with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Bengals. Tee Higgins
had six catches for 83 yards and the score.
“We’re not going to make it about one play. There was plenty of plays we left on the
field today that could have put us in a better position,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
“The character of this football team, that’s never going to change. We’ve got the right
people in the locker room, the right men leading this team and this organization.