GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)Patrick Mahomes and his ailing right ankle are headed for another Super Bowl victory parade.
After aggravating the sprained ankle he suffered three weeks ago, the All-Pro quarterback led the Kansas City Chiefs to a thrilling 38-35 come-from-behind victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, hoisting his second Lombardi Trophy and taking with it the game’s MVP honor for the second time in his career.
Mahomes finished with 182 yards passing and three touchdowns, but he was especially brilliant on his hurt ankle in the second half: 13 of 14 for 93 yards and two touchdowns. The league’s MVP also had 44 yards rushing, including his 26-yard sprint with just over 2 minutes left in a 35-all game as Kansas City was driving for the go-ahead score.
Harrison Butker provided it with his 27-yard field goal with 8 seconds to go.
”I told you all this week there’s nothing that’s going to keep me off that football field,” said Mahomes, who hurt the ankle in the divisional round against Jacksonville. ”I just want a shoutout to my teammates – we challenged each other, we needed everyone to win this football game – so shoutout to my teammates. We’re Super Bowl champs!”
Mahomes helped the Chiefs end a 50-year title drought when he led the Chiefs past the 49ers in 2020. Three years later, the do-everything quarterback has delivered a third Lombardi Trophy to Kansas City while joining Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Eli Manning and Terry Bradshaw as the only players to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs.
”He strives to be the greatest, without saying anything,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”That’s the way he works. He wants to be the greatest player ever.”
Mahomes reinjured his ankle late in the first half Sunday when Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards spun him to the ground. He lay there for several seconds before hobbling off the field in a scene eerily reminiscent of earlier in the playoffs.
Mahomes said he didn’t get a painkilling shot at halftime, but he no doubt benefited from a longer halftime to allow for Rihanna’s performance. And by the time the field was cleared of the stage, No. 15 was at the head of the pack as he led the Chiefs back to the field, facing a 24-14 deficit but knowing they would get the opening kickoff.
Mahomes promptly marched them 75 yards and Isiah Pacheco crashed into the end zone to close within 24-21. When the Eagles answered with a field goal, Mahomes led another 75-yard TD march. And a 65-yard punt return by Kadarius Toney set up Mahomes’ 4-yard TD toss to a wide-open Skyy Moore that made it 35-27 in the fourth quarter.
Mahomes’ final scoring drive was pure guts.
The Eagles had just scored and made the 2-point conversion to knot the game 35-all with 5:15 left when Mahomes hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a first down. He completed another pass to Travis Kelce, then Mahomes escaped on a long scramble – just like his one that set up their winning field goal against the Bengals in the AFC title game.
This time, the Chiefs kept going. They benefited from a defensive holding call on third-and-8 against Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, then got down to the goal line before killing the clock and sending Butker onto the field for what turned out to be the winning field goal.
”It hasn’t even sank in yet. I appreciate it because of the failures,” said Mahomes, whose Chiefs lost to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl two years ago. ”It gives you a greater appreciation to be standing here as a champion.”
Mahomes’ ankle was a big question mark for the AFC championship game, when he only had a week to recover from the initial injury sustained against Jacksonville. But with two weeks to rest it, Mahomes had insisted all week that he was good to go in the Super Bowl, and Reid likewise said his star quarterback had no limitations.
Mahomes was moving around well in the first half Sunday, too. He scrambled for a big gain on Kansas City’s opening series and was doing a good job of buying time against the NFL’s top-ranked team in sacks this season.
The Chiefs were trying to match a touchdown that gave Philadelphia a 21-14 lead when Mahomes went down again.
He was flushed from the pocket, stepped forward and scrambled to his left, then Edwards lassoed him and spun him to the ground. Mahomes lay there for a moment with his facemask buried in the turf before getting to his feet and hobbling to the sideline in a near-carbon copy of the scene from three weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium.
That night, Mahomes came back after halftime to lead the Chiefs to victory to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.
He did the same thing on the biggest of stages Sunday night.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL