Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo spoke with his players on Friday ahead of the AFC Championship Game. He wanted to convey one thought.
The topic: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and specifically his ankle. The Bengals weren’t sure about the high-ankle sprain Mahomes had suffered a week earlier in a divisional playoff game, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King. But the Bengals figured he’d be limited. “I gotta be honest,” Anarumo told the players, per King. “Feels to me like he’s got a little bit of a leaky tire, and at some point, it’s gonna go flat.”
It was clear to anyone watching the game that Mahomes was in pain, especially by the fourth quarter on a frigid night at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. With 17 seconds remaining and the score tied, the Chiefs faced a third-and-4 from the Bengals’ 47-yard line. Mahomes was desperately trying to get the team into field-goal range.
Mahomes dropped back to pass and knew he couldn’t find an open receiver. So he took off running, despite the “flat tire,” and picked up 5 valuable yards to give the Chiefs a chance to at least take a shot at the field goal. After Mahomes ran out of bounds to stop the clock, the Bengals’ Joseph Ossai shoved him, moving the ball 15 yards closer for kicker Harrison Butker. Butker drilled the attempt, and the Chiefs won 23-20.
Mahomes dug deep on the play. The NFL’s Next Gen Stats showed Mahomes reached a top speed of 18.14 mph on the dash, which marked his fastest speed reached on any play this postseason. His previous high was 14.87 mph.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post talked with former MLB pitcher Patrick Mahomes Sr. after the game, and he mentioned that gutsy run. “We got a family motto: Players make plays,” Mahomes Sr. told Kilgore. “And so he made a play.”
That Mahomes was able to play at all was something of a miracle to many. After the game, he gave credit to Chiefs assistant athletic trainer Julie Frymyer, who had outlined with Mahomes a plan to get the ankle ready for Sunday’s game.
Mahomes’ father believes his son possesses an incredible healing ability, which the Chiefs quarterback got from his mother, Randi. “His mama has some different genes,” Mahomes Sr. told the Post. “She’s double-jointed and all that. He gets that from his mama. The athletic ability comes from me. That part comes from his mama.” Those are some good genes to have.