Kansas City, Mo. ( Associated Press) – Patrick Mahomes certainly deserved the ball in Sunday’s AFC title game when the All-Pro quarterback twisted his right knee in the final seconds to set up the winning field goal.
Travis Kelce too. With the Chiefs missing three receivers due to injuries, the All-Pro tight end played through remnants of back spasms that sidelined him almost entirely and finished with seven catches for 78 yards and one score. Happened.
But the real MVP of the 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was head coach Rick Burkholder and his staff. It was Burkholder and coach Julie Frymer who put together a plan to get Mahomes ready to face the Bengals, and then had to prepare Kelce when his back started giving him trouble 48 hours before the game.
“I didn’t expect to be able to run that much,” Mahomes admitted. “The coaching staff, Julie, did a great job of giving me enough range and mobility that I was able to play my defense, and then at the end of the game, I got to run for a first down and put us in field goal range. .. so the credit goes to him.”
Credit to him for Kelsey as well.
“I wasn’t sure I could do it,” he said, “but we have the best coaching staff in the NFL.” I am very grateful and appreciate it. I don’t know where I would be mentally if I didn’t play.”
What’s true: The Chiefs probably shouldn’t be preparing to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs sacked Joe Burrows five times, including a hit by Chris Jones that forced a punt late and gave Kansas City a one-play opportunity for the eventual game-winning field goal.
The rush was helped by a defense with one of the best receiving groups in the league with a trio of rookie cornerbacks and a rookie safety.
“The whole offseason I dedicated to this game,” said Jones, who had never had a sack in his 11 postseason games before his two on Sunday. “Make sure that when they call to me, I answer.”
With three receivers injured and their quarterback struggling, the Chiefs looked to establish themselves on Sunday. But he only managed 42 yards on 20 carries, 2.1 yards per attempt.