There’s no way Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will miss Sunday’s AFC Championship. Even if he’s hopping around on one leg, Mahomes will be out there, battling for a third career Super Bowl berth.
But Mahomes will be hampered. We’ve seen it before; in Super Bowl LV, he was missing just enough of his elusiveness to make it easier for Buccaneers pass rushers to get to him, due to a case of turf toe that required surgery only three days later.
Left tackle Orlando Brown sees the positive in the negative reality of the latest Mahomes injury, a high ankle sprain.
“When something like that happens, it forces us up front to play even harder to make sure he doesn’t get hit,” Brown told Peter King for his latest Football Morning in America column. “That’s one thing about it — you get motivated to up your game even more.”
Brown also said that witnessing Mahomes battle through injury makes other players more determined to play to their very best, and beyond.
“We have a ton of grit instilled in us here, and we love the sport and love each other,” Brown said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but we just want to rally behind 15. He’s the epitome of what our team is.”
It’s a very real dynamic. The best quarterbacks are incredible leaders. They motivate, by word and/or example, their teammates to play better. To be the best they can be. To be better than they thought they could be.
It happens in all sports. It happens beyond sports. Certain people are so good at what they do that they make everyone around them try their damnedest to be even better.
For the Chiefs, the combination of Mahomes gutting it out while being injured and being impaired by his injury gives Brown and the rest of the offense a kick in the ass. That mentality surely impacts the defense, too.
Yes, it would be better to have Mahomes at 100 percent. But, like other great quarterbacks, what Mahomes brings to the team extends beyond what he can or can’t do with the ball in his hands.