Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was upbeat about his likely fitness for next week's AFC Championship game after suffering an ankle injury in Saturday's NFL divisional round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A hobbling Mahomes had to be taken out of the game in the first-quarter of the 27-20 win with a sprained ankle but returned after the interval, wearing heavy strapping, to lead his team to their fifth straight AFC title game.
Mahomes said that X-rays taken before he returned to the game had been negative and that the pain after the game was less than he had anticipated.
"It feels better right now than I thought it was going to," he told the post-game press conference.
"Obviously I have a lot of adrenalin right now so we'll see. I'll hop right into treatment right now and do whatever I can to be at 100% next week," he said.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also appeared confident he would be able to call on his quarterback in the game against the winners of Sunday’s clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills.
"Let's see how it is in the next couple of days. It is going to be sore but he has had this before ... and pushed through that. The main thing is that he was safe or as safe as you can be on a football field," he said.
Reid said that Mahomes had been unwilling to return to the locker room and wanted to carry on in the game.
"It was hard getting him out of the game, he wanted to fight," Reid said. "We did a few little things with him on the sideline to see where he was at and put him in, it was a short-leash, if I felt like he wasn't able to handle it, he would have been out."
Mahomes said that he had been told clearly that if he didn't get himself checked out, he wouldn't be allowed to return.
“I did not want to go. They kind of gave me the ultimatum of I was not going back in the game unless I went in the locker room. It's going to take a lot to keep me out of a football game," he said.
Mahomes admitted that his play was impacted by the injury and praised his team-mates for giving him the maximum on-field help.
"I missed some throws that I think I could have made if I had been in the right foot position but luckily for me I am not in the right foot position all the time anyways so I was able to make the right throws," he said.
- Team steps up -
"Credit to the team, the offensive line did a great job in the second half protecting me, I got the ball in my hands quickly and guys made plays. It is a team sport for a reason and the guys stepped up around me," he said.
Mahomes had particular praise for his veteran back-up Chad Henne, who came in and led an impressive touchdown drive while Mahomes was in the locker room.
"It's special. It's the playoffs, you don't get any reps during the week and he prepares himself to be able to go in and do stuff like that," said Mahomes.
"He had a 98-yard drive, backed up, in a playoff game against a great opportunity to be able to drive the ball down the field, make some big throws and was able to get us into the end zone," he added.
Travis Kelce had 14 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the record for the most catches by a tight end in playoff history.
"He's special, man, a one of a kind player," said Mahomes. "He is one of the reasons we have been able to be in this position so many times."