How will this Chiefs-Titans game differ from the first? Start with the quarterback.

Sam Mcdowell, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Football

The arm draws most of the attention. Well, the arm, the creativity and the angles at which Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a football.

But the lower half is a key part of it all. Movement within the pocket. Extending plays. Scrambling and gaining yards on the run. It's always been part of Mahomes' arsenal.

Except once.


In his first game back from a dislocated kneecap, Mahomes did not leave the pocket for a rush even once in a 35-32 loss to the Titans in Nashville. Through 34 games as an NFL starting quarterback, it remains the only game in which Mahomes as not attempted to run.

So in a list of things different about this matchup with Tennessee -- Sunday's AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium -- compared to the first one, on Nov. 10, let's start there.

"Being my first game back off the injury, you don't know exactly what to expect," Mahomes said. "You trust the trainers; you trust all the doctors; but you still don't know. You haven't run at that speed with the pads on in game speed. So I definitely feel more comfortable now having the games under my belt. I've been lucky enough to be healthy this late in the season."

The comfort shows on film and in the stat sheet. In Sunday's win against the Texans, Mahomes found running lanes with consistency, scrambling four times for 50 yards.

All four went for first downs.


"I think you're right. I think he feels more comfortable," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Obviously because he had the brace and all those things going on there. So I think he's more comfortable getting out there."

The injuries didn't affect the upper half -- Mahomes still managed 446 passing yards and three touchdowns against Tennessee, his first game back.

And even the scrambling didn't take long to resurface. It was more a mental block than a physical one.

Gone now.

"Whenever you're in the playoffs against these teams, these defenses that are great defenses, you have to be able to use everything that you can," Mahomes said. "If that calls for me scrambling, I'm going to do that. If it calls for me sitting in the pocket making a throw, I'm going to do that. I think that's the great thing about football -- every game is different. You're going to have different things you can do one game (that) you can't do another game. So last week it called for me to scramble. This week we'll see what it takes to win."

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