Chiefs QB Mahomes leaves game with concussion

By Sam McDowell
The Kansas City Star/TNS

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory with a concussion, but he was “in good spirits” after the game, according to his teammates and coach, who left open the possibility we haven’t seen the last of him in these playoffs.

On a quarterback rush, Mahomes was hit in the back of the head on a tackle from Cleveland Browns linebacker Mack Wilson. He attempted to stand up but was visibly unable to keep his balance, requiring help from offensive lineman Mike Remmers.

After some evaluation in the locker room, the Chiefs declared Mahomes out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.

“He got hit in the back of the head and kind of knocked the wind out of him and everything else with it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We took him out.

“He’s doing great right now, which is a real positive as we look at this. He passed all the deals that he needed to pass. So we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Mahomes jogged to the locker room after the hit, where he was evaluated by an independent doctor. He did not return. Chad Henne finished off the 22-17 win against the Browns in the AFC Divisional Round.

Reid said he had a conversation with Mahomes after the game, as did Henne, who said, “he’s in good spirits.” For what it’s worth, Mahomes tweeted his excitement about the win shortly after it concluded.

But he watched the final quarter-plus from the locker room, abiding by a league rule that prevents players diagnosed with concussions from returning to the sideline.

And now Mahomes’ status looms over the AFC Championship Game with the Bills coming to Kansas City in a week.

Asked about that, Reid said, “We’ll see how he is tomorrow, but right now he’s feeling good.”

Earlier in the game Sunday, Mahomes injured his left toe, but he played through that injury. A return Sunday cannot be left up to him, per league rules.

And neither would a return next week.

The league mandates a five-step process for a player to be cleared to return from a concussion, though no timeline is offered on those steps. It is possible for a player to clear them all in one week.

The five steps progresses a player from (1) being symptom free and passing baseline tests to (2) taking part in “dynamic stretching and balance training” to (3) increasing that training to mimic sport activities to (4) participation in non-contact football drills and position specific drills to (5) examination by an Independent Neurological Consultant assigned to the team.

“If the INC concurs with the team physician that the player’s concussion has resolved, he may participate in the club’s next practice or game,” the protocol states.

Before leaving Sunday’s game, Mahomes was 21 for 30 with 255 yards and a touchdown.

Wilson issued a tweet after the game saying he was praying for Mahomes, and teammate Myles Garrett emphasized there was no malice behind the play that injured him. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and some Browns players appeared to exchange some words after the initial hit.

“You never wanna say that someone purposely took somebody out the game. But they were flying around, and after the initial hit, they were fired up, saying, ‘that’s what we do; that’s what we do,’” Kelce said. “So it’s just, there was a lot of talk between me and their players. For the most part, it was just in a competitive mindset. I do feel like those guys are good dudes, and I respect a lot of them for that, especially Myles.”

Henne replaced Mahomes and finished 6 for 8 with 66 yards and an interception, though he did lead the game-sealing drive. After scrambling for 13 yards to set up fourth-and-1, Henne found Tyreek Hill for 5 yards to run out the clock.

“Nothing changed, man. Nothing changed,” Kelce said. “Chad came in and uplifted us; we uplifted him. And we just rallied together, man. That’s what we did - offensively, defensively, special teams. We circled the wagon and got a little bit tighter as a group and found a way to win against a good football team.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is pressured by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett in the first half Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO.