KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes has been here before. The quarterback, who suffered a high right ankle sprain in the Kansas City Chiefs’ divisional-round defeat of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has said he will play on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
He also suffered a high ankle sprain in the Chiefs’ 2019 regular-season opener. That experience could serve him well in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s very similar, just a different ankle,” Mahomes said. “I’ll have to find ways to be able to push off and be able to still make the throws the right way.
“I think it’s just about being a competitor. All you can do is just mentally prepare yourself and your body throughout the week, and then you get to game day and you just have to focus on the game. That’s what I’ll try to do is prepare my body the best I can and get to the game and just go out there and play and try to find a way to win.”
Mahomes injured his right ankle while being hit after throwing a pass in the first quarter on Saturday. He left the game for a series, giving way to backup Chad Henne, who took the Chiefs on a 98-yard touchdown drive.
Mahomes came back in the game for the second half. In 2019, he didn’t come out of the game and played in the next week’s game against the Raiders, throwing four touchdown passes.
His signature mobility and style of play was affected against Jacksonville. After leading the NFL during the regular season with 113 throws from outside the pocket, he threw exclusively from the pocket in the second half.
If he’s mostly a pocket passer on Sunday, Mahomes and the Chiefs have thrived that way before. Including the playoffs, Mahomes is 12-0 in his career and 2-0 this season when he throws at least 90% of his passes from inside the pocket.
He had the NFL’s best QBR (73) this season on passes from the pocket, also leading the league in pocket passes resulting in touchdowns (6%) and first downs (42%).
In any case, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs’ game plan is expansive enough that they can call plays to avoid any limitations Mahomes may have.
“We have enough in the game plan where you can kind of pick and choose where you want to go with it,” he said. “You have a variety of things that you can go to. Obviously you don’t use all the plays in the game plan, but they’re available, so if you have to go a certain direction, you can go that direction with the calls.”
Reid said he was expecting the Bengals to put pressure on Mahomes beyond what they normally might if his ankle were at full strength.
“I’m sure they’ll do something, yeah,” Reid said. “But I’m not going to chase a bunch of different things. We should have things covered in our protections no matter what.”