Gridiron Heroes: The All-Time Gutsiest Performances By Injured Players

Darren - February 1, 2023

Gridiron Heroes: The All-Time Gutsiest Performances By Injured Players

Darren - February 1, 2023

Lehigh Valley Live

Donovan McNabb

Anybody who broke their ankle will know that it’s agonizing to put their weight on it. Now imagine playing an NFL game against some of the biggest athletes on the planet. That’s exactly what McNabb did in the gutsiest performance of his career in 2002. He rejected medical concerns over his foot after an injury during a game against Arizona.

L.A. Times

McNabb refused to undergo an X-ray and went back into the fray. Amazingly, the QB had one of his greatest games with a broken ankle. He completed 20 of 25 pass attempts for four touchdowns. Perhaps the acute pain sharpened his mind and forced him to make everything count. Whatever happened, it was an outstanding day for the Eagles star (via Bleacher Report).


Kellen Winslow

Now, first a disclaimer as we all know Winslow is a sick and horrible person, but this was a great on-field display. He battled against extreme dehydration and injuries in the 1981 AFC divisional game. San Diego played the Dolphins on an iconic day that we remember as ‘The Epic in Miami.’ There were a bunch of great displays in this game but Winslow stole the show. That’s because he flung the pain barrier out of the window.


He endured an agonizing pinched nerve and received multiple stitches but kept going. Winslow famously blocked a field goal and had an amazing 13 receptions with one touchdown. In the end, his teammates carried him off the field because he couldn’t walk. Winslow put in the gutsiest performance of his life. (via

NBC Sports

Ben Roethlisberger

‘Big Ben’ is in a similar position to Deshaun Watson because of his serious personal flaws. However, he also demonstrated a lot of mental strength and physical toughness in Super Bowl XL. This doesn’t make up for his off-field behavior but it shows that he was an excellent football player and an inspirational leader.

CBS Sports

Roethlisberger took some hard hits but he didn’t slow down. He refused to check his injuries during the game but it emerged that he had two broken ribs. This made it difficult for him to breathe and it slowed him down on the field. Nonetheless, he delivered the gutsiest performance of his life and led his team to victory (via CBC).

Pro Football Network

Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes had a legendary AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2023. The quarterback sprained his ankle badly against the Jags in the divisional round. This instantly made it unlikely that he would be fit to face the Bengals but Mahomes wouldn’t sit out. He had the gutsiest performance of his career and guided his team to a third Super Bowl appearance.

Sky Sports

The Kansas City superstar played on one leg but still delivered for his team. He completed 29 of 43 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns in a heroic display. It was also extraordinary that he achieved this as his wide receivers fell to injury around him. This will go down as one of the greatest individual games ever (via ABC 7).