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Sunday, February 5, 2023

NFL: ailing Mahomes optimistic despite feared opponents

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Mahomes has been really good this NFL season and is one of the top five contenders for MVP honors. Ironically, before the last step on the way to the Super Bowl, he is injured.

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Patrick Mahomes won’t let a sprained ankle stop him. Only he himself knows whether it was a great acting performance, pure will or the right leg really no longer hurts – but four days after the shock, the most important footballer of the Kansas City Chiefs trained without limping.

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On Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, he wants to be as prepared as possible – and with his first win against Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, he wants to enter the Super Bowl for the third time in his career. A year ago, the duel with the Bengals was the terminus. And that despite an 18-point lead.

“It’s about being a competitor. You want to be out there, especially in these games,” Mahomes said. “On match day you just have to concentrate on the game. I’ll try that. Try to prepare my body as much as possible.” Only if there are any signs of discomfort after any of the sessions leading up to the AFC title final will he slow down, he said.

Next season in Germany

The playmaker, who is playing a main round game with the Chiefs in Germany next season, was injured early on Saturday in the win against the Jacksonville Jaguars when an opponent fell on his leg. Mahomes sprained his ankle and limped visibly upon his return to the field. By the time journalists were allowed to train, the quarterback superstar was already moving around without restrictions.

Eating, sleeping, treatment, rehab – that’s how he’s spent every minute since the game, Mahomes reported. Even his wife Brittany often came along so he could spend time with his children. “Treatment, rehabilitation, watching the film. You’re trying to make sure you’re prepared for the Bengals, a great football team, mentally and physically,” he said.

Mahomes has already proven that he can deal with injuries of this kind. At the beginning of the 2019 season, the left ankle was sprained – in the first game after that, Mahomes threw four touchdown passes. “It’s very similar, just the other ankle,” said Mahomes, who has had a lot more experience since that injury and should now be able to handle it even better. “When you’ve been in the NFL for so long, it’s rare that you don’t have anything at this point,” head coach Andy Reid said. He is confident that Mahomes will find a way.

Bad record against the Bengals

All Chiefs fans have been waiting for this kind of all-clear – because the Bengals have developed into a nemesis and every bit of confidence is gladly accepted. The Chiefs have suffered defeats in the past three games – last season’s AFC final was particularly bitter. After a 21:3 lead, the Bengals won 27:24 after overtime and entered the Super Bowl. There was a loss against the Los Angeles Rams. This time, the winner will face either the San Francisco 49ers or the Philadelphia Eagles on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Injury aside, Mahomes is ready to go into the game with as much confidence as humanly possible – for many observers he has had the best season of an already impressive career so far. As one of five players, he is a contender for the NFL Main Round Most Valuable Pro award. Despite pass receiver Tyreek Hill’s departure to the Miami Dolphins before the season, the Chiefs’ attack is still extremely difficult to defend. This is due to exceptional players like Travis Kelce – and Mahomes, who absolutely wants to win the Super Bowl for the second time after 2020. But he has to overcome the pain in his ankle – and first beat the Bengals to Burrow.

Source: Stern

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