The Kansas City Chiefs saw the very last thing they wanted to see on Thursday night — franchise quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes flat on his back, unable to make it to his feet after getting tangled up in a pile.
Mahomes had to leave the game midway through the second quarter after what is being reported as a patellar dislocation.
“It was out of whack,” said Travis Kelce, who watched Mahomes on the ground after the play. “I couldn’t even describe it. You looked at it and were like, ‘On no, there is something wrong with him.’ He didn’t seem like he was in too much pain. It is hard to really figure out what was really going on. When we found out it was his knee and he was going out of the game, you just hope a guy isn’t injured that bad and can come back.”
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill did not even want to discuss the play.
“I don’t want to express that,” said Hill. “I don’t even want to think about that. We are just trying to move on from it, and I will continue to pray for my dog.”
“I was devastated for him, obviously,” added backup QB Matt Moore, who entered the game once Mahomes went to the locker room. “He’s been down and popped up pretty quick. This one, obviously, wasn’t that case. So I just hope he’s OK.
“At the same time, we have to go and win a football game, and so I’ve been in this position before and you just kind of have to move forward and go, just wishing the best for your buddy.”
Moore played the rest of the way, going 10 of 19 for 117 yards and a touchdown.
“I think it’s a pretty calm team,” said Moore. “Excited for the win, division opponent, road game, all things that are hard to do. At the same time, a guy like Patrick gets hurt. It can be deflating. Obviously, he’s a huge part of this team, huge part of the league. You just hate to see that. We all know that injuries are part of this game, then whatever it is, he’s going do his best to get back out as quick as he can. He’ll move forward that way, and in the meantime, we’ll all move forward in the way that we can.”
Kansas City showed that was possible on Thursday night. Leading only by two scores at halftime, the Chiefs could have come out in the third quarter deflated, allowing things to unravel.
Instead, for what felt like the first time in seven games, the defense stepped up to shut down any inkling of Denver hope.
“We just knew we had to go play some good, solid defense,” said Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland, who scooped a fumble for a touchdown. “To win in this league, you have to play good defense, and that’s what we did [Thursday night]. I really feel like tonight was really just the tip of the iceberg for this team. Whatever happened before tonight’s game is done and over with. We just need to keep going forward and keep getting better as a team.”
“Next man up”
At the moment of this writing, Mahomes is expected to miss at least three weeks, though it could be more depending on an MRI scheduled to take place sometime Friday. But right after the game — somewhat surprisingly — the Chiefs sounded rather optimistic.
“It is the next man up,” said rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes before he exited the game. “Matt has been in the league for a long time. We have trust in him. We just had to go out there and play and keep everything the same. We can’t dwell on it and get down. We still had a game to win... It is bigger now. With Pat out, everybody has to step up to a whole other level. When the MVP goes down everybody has to step up. We did that. Matt came in and did a great job. I think the O-line picked it up a bit.”
Hill’s words mirrored those of his protege.
“Obviously, we need him to get wins,” said Hill, “but now we just have to move on. We have that next-man-up mentality. If Moore moves up, we are going to make plays for him too.”
And the Chiefs and Hill did. Hill was the recipient of a perfect 57-yard pass from Moore that led to his token peace symbol and third touchdown of the season.
As for the play in which Mahomes was injured on, Chiefs head coach Andy said he expressed no regret in calling the fourth-down sneak.
“Not too many people get hurt on sneaks,” said Reid. “It was a freak thing, sometimes it happens. I was really proud of how our guys stepped up and didn’t let themselves down. You’ve seen that over the years where teams let themselves down when one of your best players get hurt, particularly the quarterback. But I was proud of how our guys stepped up and just kept battling. I thought they really upped their game.”
QB-sneak truths:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 18, 2019
-They're the single most efficient play in short yardage
-Mahomes suffered a freak, friendly-fire injury
-He's more likely to be injured dropping back to pass
-He was injured in each of the prior 2 gms when passing
-We don't say "don't pass" to avoid injury
Ever the leader, Mahomes told the team to enjoy the mini-bye weekend, and that they have much “more to go.”
“He’s in a good place,” said Reid. “He was in a good place on the field when it happened. Our doctor was phenomenal calming everything down, he calmed the storm right there. Patrick was good and felt very comfortable with him. He refused to get in that cart.”