AVENTURA, Fla. — Patrick Mahomes had the predictable reaction when he was on the field in Denver and saw his kneecap out of place.
“I thought the worst, for sure,” Mahomes said Tuesday. “When you look down and your knee is on the side of your leg, I mean, you never think that could be anything good.”
The Kansas City Chiefs weren’t worried about Super Bowl LIV back on Oct. 17 in Denver. They were worried their season might be lost.
It’s hard to call anything involving a dislocated kneecap “lucky,” but the Chiefs were close to having their season blown to bits. Mahomes dislocated his kneecap on a quarterback sneak against the Broncos. Nothing against backup quarterback Matt Moore, but it’s very hard to imagine the Chiefs would have been in Super Bowl LIV had Mahomes needed season-ending surgery for the injury.
Mahomes missed only two games. The Chiefs made the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years and the signature play was a long touchdown run by Mahomes, who three months earlier was writhing in pain with his knee out of place.
It turned out very well but for a few moments, it certainly looked like Mahomes was finished for the season.
“It was very scary,” Mahomes said.
Patrick Mahomes avoided a devastating injury
The Chiefs were pretty confident after the game that Mahomes had avoided major injury, but there was still some uncertainty. Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher was injured for the Broncos game, at home watching on TV, and he knew what it could mean.
“Obviously you just say a prayer and hope for the best,” Fisher said.
Mahomes had to go through an MRI to make sure there was no ligament damage. Even when they got good news on that front, it was hard to tell exactly how many games he would miss. It’s not like the Chiefs were going to take any chances with their franchise quarterback.
During his rehab, Mahomes’ stature with his teammates grew even more. They noticed the work he put in to get back as soon as possible.
“Seeing his leg out, it was a scary situation. This is our quarterback we’re talking about,” running back Damien Williams said. “But having himself coming back so early, that’s something within yourself.
“He was coming in and working hard each and every day to get better. We see this every day. The training facility is right there. He’s in there early and he’s not leaving until about 8, 9 o’clock and we got off at 5 o’clock. He put the time in to get back.”
There was certainly some luck involved in Mahomes avoiding a season-ending injury. But he deserves credit for coming back as soon as he did.
“I was able to walk off the field and after seeing the X-rays and MRIs and seeing I’d have chance to play, it was awesome,” Mahomes said. “It really was a blessing.”
Chiefs won two big games without Mahomes
Don’t forget Moore’s contributions to the Chiefs’ season. He started two games and played most of the Denver game. The Chiefs won two of those three games and Moore posted a passer rating of 100.9. Had the Chiefs lost either of those two games, they wouldn’t have been the second seed in the AFC. Without a first-round bye, their path to Super Bowl LIV would have been a lot tougher.
“Coach [Andy] Reid is a big depth guy, he doesn’t expect any drop-off,” Fisher said. “When Matt stepped in he did such a great job. That was huge.”
Still, Moore isn’t Mahomes. Not many quarterbacks are. He’s arguably the best player in the NFL, and the biggest reason the Chiefs are in the Super Bowl. The entire NFL season would have turned out a lot differently had Mahomes’ knee injury in Denver been as bad as it initially looked. If the Chiefs win their first championship since Super Bowl IV, they can feel like they caught one enormous break along the way.
“I’m just glad I’m here now and I’m healthy and I’m able to go out there and play the game I love,” Mahomes said.
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