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Patrick Mahomes 'in a better spot' with ankle sprain, willing to 'leave it all on the line' in Super Bowl LVII

It was never a question, but Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes answered it anyway.

He'll be playing through his high ankle sprain in the Super Bowl against the Eagles.

"I'm just gonna make it real quick," Mahomes said Monday during Super Bowl LVII Opening Night. "I'll play through all injuries that the trainers will let me play through. That's the list. As long as the trainers are OK for me to get out there, I'm going to play through it."

Mahomes initially suffered the sprain in the Divisional Round against the Jaguars after his leg got caught and rolled up under Jacksonville linebacker Arden Key on Kansas City's second drive. He finished out the possession for a field goal to take a 10-7 lead, but he would miss the remaining 14 minutes of the first half.

He returned in the second half taped and hobbled, sometimes wasting passes in the dirt either to avoid an oncoming rush or due to a lack of ability to firmly plant on his right ankle. Still, he produced essentially the same results in an unhealthy second half as he did in the first quarter.

He was 12-of-15 passing with 84 yards and a touchdown at the time of his exit, and he completed 10 of 15 passes for 111 yards and another TD after his return.

Questions dogged the two-time All-Pro in the week preceding the AFC Championship Game, first about if he'd be able to play at all with the injury and then regarding how effective he would be. But he was a full participant every day, played every snap of the championship game and threw for 326 yards with another two TDs to get revenge over the Bengals for last year's defeat at the same stage.

"A lot of those guys sat on that loss for a year when we lost to the Bengals in the AFC championship the year before," Mahomes said. "And I think guys were ready to go, and ready to play in the AFC championship. I'm glad we won it, but the job's not finished. We still got to go out there and win another game."

It's clear he can get the job done through the air. The persisting query given the two weeks of recovery between the Super Bowl and his last game is whether he'll be healed up enough to be the dual-threat Mahomes of old.

"You won't know until you get out there in the game," Mahomes said. "I'm gonna push it. I'll try to leave it all on the line. I think you all saw that in the last game that I played. But it's about relying on your teammates -- and I got a lot of great teammates around me -- and not trying to do too much. But I'll definitely be in a better spot than I was last game."

The QB set a career high with four rushing touchdowns during the 2022 regular season and amassed over 300 yards on the ground for the third consecutive year. His movement in the pocket and ability to escape when plays break down is what makes him so tormenting to pass rushers, but Mahomes had identical stat lines of three carries for eight yards in both of his playoff games.

With that said, five of those rushing yards came on a crucial third-down scramble to move the chains with 17 seconds remaining in the AFC Championship, which turned into an even more impactful gain when Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai gave the Chiefs another 15 yards for pushing Mahomes down when the QB was already out of bounds.

The unnecessary roughness penalty set up a Harrison Butker 45-yard field goal for the win.

"It's about playing for your teammates," Mahomes said in reference to gutting out his late scramble. "Just trying to do whatever you can to win the game for your teammates beside you. In that moment, God gave me the strength to run and get that first down and get us into field goal range. All I've done since then is try to get my ankle better and better, and hopefully I'll be able to run whenever I need to in this game."

The Mahomes on display in the last three halves of the postseason was good enough for a third Super Bowl berth in four years. If he proves so healthy that he adds back his mobility, "good enough" starts to trend a bit closer to scary for the Philly faithful.

"You're in the biggest game of your life." Mahomes said "And you want to go out there and make memories with your teammates. I think the biggest motivating factor is to step on that field and try to be the best. And we know we got a great challenge with the Philadelphia Eagles, so it will be a great game."

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