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Chiefs, hobbling Patrick Mahomes, head for fifth consecutive AFC title game


The Kansas City Chiefs will be in the AFC Championship Game for the fifth straight year, however Patrick Mahomes maybe limping his way there.

The Chiefs took care of the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 27-20 win at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night, even as Mahomes left the game early with an ankle injury before returning for the second half. With his right ankle heavily wrapped, Mahomes still had enough vigor to throw a key fourth-quarter touchdown pass to receiver Marques Valdez-Scantling.

Kansas City will find out who and where it is playing for a Super Bowl berth on Sunday. If the Bengals can beat the Bills, the Chiefs will host Cincinnati; if the Bills win, the AFC title game will be played as a neutral-site contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The Chiefs and Jaguars were tied 7-7 when Mahomes went down late in the first quarter, outside linebacker Arden Key landing on his right foot as he twisted on the ground. Mahomes tried to stay in the game, literally bouncing and hobbling the rest of the way, which ended in a Harrison Butker field goal. Veteran backup Chad Henne entered the next series, leading the Chiefs on a 98-yard drive that ended with tight end Travis Kelce’s second touchdown of the game.

Kelce had a prolific day, finishing with a career-high 14 catches for 98 yards on 17 targets. It’s an NFL record for most catches by a tight end in a playoff game, one out of the league record of 15, set by Darren Sproles of the Saints in 2012 and James White of the Patriots in 2019.

Mahomes managed to overcome the injury after missing the entire second quarter. But even with a week off, that will likely limit him to some extent at least in his next game.

Dr Matt Provencher provides update on Patrick Mahomes ankle injury for Chiefs

Dr Matt Provencher provides update on Patrick Mahomes ankle injury for Chiefs

Dr Matt Provencher believes Mahomes will play in the AFC title match next week but will be limited by his ankle injury.

Jacksonville, which rallied from a 27-0 deficit to stun the Chargers in last week’s wildcard game, got an early touchdown pass from the quarterback Trevor Lawrence to receiver Christian Kirk. The Jags offense was held in check until the fourth quarter, when Lawrence hit receiver Zay Jones for 37 yards to set up a Travis Etienne touchdown, shooting it 20-17 with 11:53 left.

That score put pressure on the Chiefs and Mahomes, but he responded with a 75-yard touchdown, never hitting a third on the way to find cushion with the scoring throw to Valdez-Scantling in the back of the end zone with 7:08 remaining. Mahomes finished 22 of 30 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Isiah Pacheco rushed for 95 yards.

Jacksonville, down two scores, drove to the Kansas City 9-yard line when Lawrence’s throw to Jamal Agnew resulted in a fumble recovered by Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. Their next practice ended with Lawrence being intercepted by Chiefs rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson.

The Jaguars, who had the league’s worst record in the previous two seasons, bounced back from a 2-6 start under first-year coach Doug Pederson to win their last six games and the AFC South in 2022.

Kansas City’s five straight trips to the conference championship round is the second-longest streak in the Super Bowl era, behind only the Patriots’ eight straight appearances from 2011-18.

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He’s in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, after spending time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.

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