When he had to, Patrick Mahomes ignored the pain and led his Kansas City Chiefs into the Super Bowl despite an injured ankle.
With a sprint seconds before the end, the quarterback superstar prepared the decisive field goal in the 23:20 win against the Cincinnati Bengals and minutes later celebrated success with his colleagues in the rain of confetti and with the first trophy - the Vince Lombardy Trophy for Then, in two weeks, after a win against the Philadelphia Eagles, he wants to elevate the triumph in the most important football game in the world for the second time in four years.
The best team in the NFL main round had previously clearly prevailed 31:7 against the San Francisco 49ers and is back in the final five years after the first victory in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had bad luck with injuries in the game and had to use the fourth quarterback of the season. "It's going to be a great challenge, but first I'm going to celebrate this. I don't think we have cigars, but we'll be prepared for the Super Bowl," Mahomes said after the hard-earned win over the Bengals.
A week ago he sprained his ankle early in the playoff duel with the Jacksonville Jaguars and was then unable to put any weight on his foot. The 27-year-old left no doubts about a mission against the team around quarterback Joe Burrow, against whom Mahomes had never won in three attempts. But he wasn't as agile and strong as usual - he only kept the ball at the very end and started sprinting when he lost more and more passes due to injuries and, like last year, there were signs of extra time.
"There are moments in a game when you just have to risk everything," he said of his decision. Because he was fouled at the end of the scene, his decision was worth even more to the opponent because of the 15-yard penalty. With two touchdown passes and throws for a total of 326 yards, Mahomes made an outstanding game under the circumstances.
Harrison Butker finally kicked the ball through the goal posts from 45 yards and allowed his teammates and fans to have a fridge party in the sub-zero temperatures. How much the victory in the fourth attempt against the Bengals meant became clear in the interviews immediately afterwards - Travis Kelce bullied live over the stadium microphone in the direction of the mayor of Cincinnati and Mahomes also made it clear what he thought of the comments in the run-up to the game: nothing. "This is still Arrowhead and not Burrowhead," he said. The Chiefs play their home games at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs now have two weeks to get their battered professionals halfway fit before the duel with Philadelphia on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. In addition to Mahomes, Kelce also started the game with problems, his role was only clear shortly before the start due to a back injury. L'Jarius Sneed, Willie Gay Jr., Toney, Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster were all injured during the game.
In Glendale there is then a brother duel: Travis Kelce meets Jason Kelce, who is one of the most important professionals in the position of center for the Eagles. Chiefs coach Andy Reid also worked for the Eagles for a long time, with Mahomes and Jalen Hurts two black quarterbacks facing each other in a Super Bowl for the first time. "It's fantastic," said Reid. "The work is not done yet."