A little less than a year ago, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce joined The Dan Patrick Show at the Super Bowl. On the show, Kelce opened up, admitting that he and his fellow Chiefs were not ready for the physicality that the New England Patriots brought to the AFC title game.
Kelce was held to three catches and 23 yards in the game, though he did score the team’s first touchdown in the eventual 37-31 overtime loss.
But on Kelce’s first target from Patrick Mahomes during Sunday’s Divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans, he flat-out dropped the ball. The Texans blocked a punt on the next play, extending an early lead to 14-0 that would be built to 24-0.
It certainly felt like another one of those games for the Chiefs. But Kelce battled back.
His next target was a 15-yard completion. By the end of the day, he would compile 10 receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
“You just have to keep your foot on the gas pedal,” said Kelce. “You can’t get too excited, you can’t get a sense of relief like, ‘Oh, we’re back in the game.’ You just have to keep going forward and know that you have a lot of unfinished business as long as that clock is ticking.”
“Kelce was banged up during the week and he fought through it,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid after the game. “You saw he didn’t come out at halftime. He stayed in and got a little treatment on his leg. It’s kind of all over the place. It’s not one exact spot, it’s all over the place. It tightened up on him.”
Kelce was limited in practice all week but still managed to play. After he came up favoring his hamstring, the CBS cameras caught Kelce pushing Reid to put him back in the game. Kelce was asked how he felt following the 51-31 comeback win.
“I feel like I’ve got about a week to get ready for next week’s game,” he said. “From there, it will be a little bit of a battle. But I’m sure that everyone is dealing with something at this point in the year.”
With Kelce turning his attention to the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium, it is worth republishing a quote from that Dan Patrick Show interview.
KELCE: “It’s frustrating, seeing the outcome—it took us a whole half just to catch up and try and take it into overtime. Being that much better next year, being that more aware next year, that’s all I can really focus on right now. I’m trying not to hang my hat really on what happened in the game.”
As it goes, “next year” is next week.
“I’m just happy that we get to play here in front of this unbelievable city,” Kelce said on Sunday. “This stadium is like nothing else in the world, man. If you come and experience it, you’ll leave saying the same thing.”