Though the Kansas City Chiefs came out of Sunday’s AFC Championship with a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the ticket to Super Bowl LVII was costly.
The Chiefs entered the game with quarterback Patrick Mahomes nursing a high ankle sprain and tight end Travis Kelce dealing with a late-week back injury. The 60 minutes of action only compounded the team’s injury woes — while a championship opportunity against the Philadelphia Eagles was looming.
On defense, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed left the game after the game’s fourth play with a concussion — and linebacker Willie Gay Jr. injured his shoulder in the third quarter. The wide receiver room was decimated. Kadarius Toney, Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster were ruled out during the game.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler provided two positive updates for the Chiefs.
The most important involved the soon-to-be league MVP.
Indications are Patrick Mahomes came out of Sunday’s game without any major setbacks on the high ankle sprain. Was told he’s in good shape post game.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 31, 2023
Mahomes played the entire game after a week of treatment. During the game, the injury was sometimes noticeable — and after the game, he identified the moment it bothered him most.
But he was also able to maximize his speed on the offense’s final play, in which he rushed for five yards to set up Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal following an unnecessary roughness penalty.
On the game's final play from scrimmage, Patrick Mahomes reached a top speed of 18.14 mph on his 5-yard scramble run, his fastest speed reached on any play this postseason. His previous high was 14.87 mph.#CINvsKC | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/mVIzwqhxb0— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 30, 2023
Fowler also had an update on one of the key defensive injuries.
Chiefs LB Willie Gay is optimistic about playing in the Super Bowl despite hurting his shoulder Sunday vs. Cincinnati, per source. Early tests were encouraging.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 31, 2023
Gay and edge rusher Frank Clark split a sack of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in the first quarter. His absence for the season’s biggest moment would be felt against mobile quarterback Jalen Hurts, tight end Dallas Goedert and the multiple pass-catching running backs on Philadelphia’s roster.
With a bye week between the conference championship and the Super Bowl, the Chiefs will not be required to issue official injury reports until their first practice next week — which will take place on Wednesday.