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‘Not many know’

Rookie Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson already had a high degree of trouble when he made a one-handed interception in Kansas City’s 27-20 win last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It turns out that the groundbreaking game was even more challenging than it first seemed.

Watson revealed Wednesday in the Chiefs locker room that his right hand — the one he used to break down Trevor Lawrence’s pass — wasn’t at its peak strength.

“Not many people know that I broke my hand this year. I’ve had treatment ever since,” Watson said. “It just so happened that it was the hand he threw it to.”

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson (35) intercepts a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during an NFL Divisional Playoff football game on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.

Watch the replay and you can see that Watson’s right hand is registered as he comes up for Lawrence’s pass in the fourth quarter.

“He was still able to catch it,” Chiefs safety Bryan Cook said. “I’m like, ‘Dang, that’s one hell of a comedy.'”

Coach Andy Reid first mentioned that Watson injured his hand after the Week 11 game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Watson had five snaps the following week against the Los Angeles Rams, before not playing in the Week 13 road game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Since then, Watson has played at least 20 defensive snaps in every contest, while going out on 48, 47 and 49 plays in the last three weeks.

“This is a great job by the training staff,” Watson said, “to prepare and prepare me to be in this moment.”

Watson, a seventh-round draft pick from Washington State, also says he’s felt more comfortable in recent weeks. Part of the credit, he said, goes to the team’s veterans for teaching him how to better analyze game footage.

“The game is slowing down for me,” Watson said. “I’m starting to see things before it happens.”

A significant challenge looms this week in the AFC Championship Game. The Cincinnati Bengals feature a superior passing attack, led by quarterback Joe Burrow and what Watson calls “probably the best receiving corps we’re going to play this year.”

That group includes Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, all of whom have shown production in Cincinnati’s previous three wins over Kansas City.

“We’ll just have to pick it up again,” Watson said. “We are playing a great offensive team.”

While the final story for this season is far from scripted, Watson admitted Wednesday that she didn’t expect things to turn out the way they did.

In addition to Saturday’s late interception, Watson also had a 99-yard pick-six in Week 2 against the Chargers that finished as one of the team’s standout plays of the season as part of a 27-24 home win .

“I’m blessed,” Watson said. “It’s a blessing to be here, a blessing to be in a great team and (with) a great organization. Then take it all in.

If nothing else, Watson says he won’t be overwhelmed by the time he plays his second NFL postseason game this weekend.

“I’ve always been confident in myself, confident in my abilities. So none of that will ever change,” Watson said. “We’ll see what happens on Sunday.”

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