KANSAS CITY, Mo. – We already know what the big question of the week will be: Will Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes be cleared to play against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC title game?
“He's doing great right now, which is a real positive as we look at this. He passed all the deals he needed to pass and we'll see where it goes from here,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said a 22-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns. “I just talked to him and he's doing good. We'll see how he is tomorrow, but right now he's feeling good.”
Mahomes, who suffered a concussion midway through the third quarter Sunday, had been shredding the Browns most of the cold, windy afternoon. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 255 yards with touchdowns on the ground and through the air, helping the Chiefs take a 19-3 lead at halftime.
They still led 19-10 after Baker Mayfield's touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry early in the third quarter, and were on the move again near midfield. But on third-and-1, the Chiefs decided to run an option play toward their sideline and Mahomes elected to keep the ball, ducking for the first-down yardage as Browns linebacker Mack Wilson got him around the head.
Mahomes remained crumpled on the turf as about 17,000 fans sat in stunned silence.
When he tried getting to his feet, his leg buckled and Mahomes nearly went down again. It took the training staff to help him get to the blue tent on the sideline, and he emerged from that a few minutes later and jogged to the locker room.
“You never want to say someone purposely tries to take you out of the game, but after the initial hit, they were fired up, saying, 'That's what we do. That's what we do,'” said Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who could be seen discussing the play with Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett on a couple of occasions.
“I don't ever want him to feel like my guys or my team is out there trying to injure someone or put them out the game,” Garrett said. “We're trying to put some bruises on you and we're trying to hurt you, but we're never trying to injure someone or take them out on purpose.”
Mahomes already had been hobbling after seemingly tweaking his ankle early in the game.
“I think when anybody goes down the team tries their best to rally around that particular player,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “Today was Patrick Mahomes. I think the whole stadium knew he was out of the game. But definitely, it was all about team.”
Indeed, the Chiefs rallied around Chad Henne, a 35-year-old journeyman, who was ready for the spotlight in part because he had played the entirety of their loss to the Chargers in Week 17.
“I'm always a competitor,” said Henne, who threw an interception in the end zone.
“I felt confident,” Henne added. “There's a lot of playmakers out there and just a great opportunity for me to make plays.”