NFL playoffs: Chiefs overcome Patrick Mahomes injury

The Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury couldn’t stop the Kansas City Chiefs from reaching the AFC Championship Game for a fifth straight season.

The Chiefs won 27-20 in a Divisional Playoffs game on Saturday, although Mahomes went to the locker room in the second quarter after suffering an ankle injury.

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But with the NFL’s leading passer out of the game, backup QB Chad Henne orchestrated a 98-yard, 12-play drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce, as Kansas City did leading 3:17-7:54 left in the first half.

“It was great to see Chad in that backup role,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “And I thought everyone improved their game in some way. And had so much faith in Chad, and he executed. But I also felt that everyone around him did a good job.”

Kelce also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to open the scoring and finished the game with 14 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

Mahomes returned in the second half, going 22-of-30 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for the game. He had passed 200+ yards in every regular season game.

Reid said Mahomes had his ankle X-rays taken and then took it again outside of the game.

“He said he felt good enough to be protected where he wouldn’t get hurt,” Reid said. “Of course that is the most important thing. And he felt his mobility was good enough where he could do that. We did a few little things with him on the sidelines to see where he was, put him in and it was a short leash. If I felt like he couldn’t handle it, he would have been out.”

Mahomes led a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave the Chiefs a 27-17 lead with 7:08 minutes remaining.

Jacksonville lost a fumble at the Kansas City 3 on his next possession, and the streak thereafter ended when quarterback Travis Lawrence was intercepted 3:48 at the Chiefs 30.

Lawrence completed 24 of 39 passes for 217 yards with one touchdown and one interception and ran three times for 26 yards.

Five players from Alabama high schools and colleges took the field during the Jacksonville-Kansas City game:

· Josh Allen (Abbeville) started as a weakside linebacker for the Jaguars. Allen made three tackles.

· Jaguar tight end Gerrit Prince (UAB) is on the practice team and not eligible to play.

· Jaguar wide receiver Calvin Ridley (Alabama) is suspended by the commissioner and ineligible to play.

· Jaguar’s offensive tackle Cam Robinson (Alabama) is on injured reserve and ineligible to play.

· Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross (Central-Phenix City) is on injured reserve and ineligible to play.

· Jaguar’s defensive end/outside linebacker Jordan Smith (UAB) is on injured reserve and ineligible to play.

· Jaguar safety Daniel Thomas (Lee-Montgomery, Auburn) made a tackle with special teams.

· Jaguar safety Deionte Thompson (Alabama) is on the practice team and not eligible to play.

· Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (Blount) had five receptions for 36 yards, gained 14 yards on a rushing attempt and returned three punts for 23 yards.

Chiefs offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho (Edgewood Academy, Auburn) played but didn’t record stats.

· Darious Williams (UAB) started at cornerback for the Jaguars. Williams made three tackles and broke off a pass.

· Jaguars center Darryl Williams (Bessemer City) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.

· Jaguars wide receiver Seth Williams (Paul Bryant, Auburn) is on the practice team and not eligible to play.

After the worst record in the NFL in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Jacksonville won the AFC South 9-8 and opened the playoffs with a 31-30 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. During the regular season, the Jaguars lost the Chiefs 27-17 on November 13.

Kansas City will play the AFC Championship Game on January 29 at 5:30 p.m. CST at a location to be determined Sunday. If the Cincinnati Bengals defeat the Buffalo Bills in the AFC’s other Divisional Playoffs game, Kansas City is playing at home. If the Bills beat the Bengals, the AFC Championship Game will be played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The neutral championship venue was the NFL’s solution to the unequal number of games for the Chiefs and Bills. Buffalo defeated Kansas City 24-20 on October 16 and would have been No. 1 and home field advantage in the AFC playoffs had they defeated Cincinnati on January 2. But that game never got past the first quarter because of a Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin was suffering from a critical health emergency. When the regular season ended, Buffalo had a 13-3 record and Kansas City had a 14-3 record.

In addition to location, the Chiefs also have a question mark on their quarterback for next week’s game.

“We’ll see,” Reid said of Mahomes’ injury. “I don’t want to jump to things now. Let’s see how things go here over the next few days. It’s gonna hurt, I know. Let’s see where he is. He’s had it before and was able to continue to assert himself.”

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney carries the football

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney carries the football during an NFL playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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