The team’s tone after their Week 4 win was in stark contrast to the disappointment they expressed following Week 3, when the team — led by tight end Travis Kelce – immediately turned to social media to accept responsibility for the 20-17 loss in Indianapolis. But with Sunday night’s win, Kelce and the Chiefs can finally put that loss – as well as the Super Bowl LV loss — behind them.
“There was a sour taste in our mouth from last weekend — [and] from the last time we were down here in Tampa,” Kelce told reporters after the game. “You know? I’m gonna put both of those behind me at this point. We’re here now. We’re gonna roll with this momentum and how well we play today.”
Leading up to Sunday’s matchup, Kelce made a big emphasis on learning from his previous mistakes and using his disappointment to get better as a player. Against the Buccaneers, he showed that his hard work had paid off in a big way, finishing the night with nine receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.
“When coaches challenge us in the beginning of the week,” explained Kelce, “[and] from what you guys saw last week, there was an attention to detail throughout practice that we gotta maintain throughout the entire season — because that was just showing exactly how much we were focused throughout the week.
“Pat [Mahomes] knew exactly where to go with the ball. Guys that were running routes knew exactly when the ball was coming to them. Then, on top of that, the whole o-line played their tail off.
“Sure enough, we got the guys to be able to make any play out there on the field. When you see us fly around and play like that — play for each other like that — we know we’re a hard team to beat.”
Adding to Kelce’s excitement from the big team win was an impressive performance by the entire tight end group. Kelce, Jody Fortson and Noah Gray all played critical roles in defeating one of the league’s top defenses; the Chiefs relied heavily on them in the red zone and in short-yardage situations.
As he told reporters on Friday, Kelce knew that the tight ends were capable of doing just that.
“It’s a fun group to be a part of,” he observed. “Jody and Noah have been progressing so much since they’ve been here. I get excited when I see those guys have success out there on the field. And anytime we can go [with] three tight end sets, I think we got the advantage.”
His words would come to fruition on Sunday night. The Chiefs scored touchdowns on five of their six red zone appearances — which included a touchdown credited to each one of the team’s tight ends.
As you might imagine, Kelce was very excited about the position group’s big night.
“Keep it coming man!” he exclaimed. “We got a great room. I’ve been saying it all year and I’m just — I’m happy for those guys, man, finally feeling the juice of a Sunday night touchdown. There’s nothing like it, baby. There’s nothing like it — and on top of that — big-time moments in the game where we needed to find a way in there. A third down — I’m not even sure one of them might have been a fourth down — but either way, [we were able to] find ways to get in the end zone. Hopefully, you’ll see some more of the three tight end sets throughout the season.”
Although the team’s success will always come first for Kelce, the All-Pro tight end’s performance on Sunday night allowed him to reach yet another milestone in his legendary career. His 92 receiving yards in the game gave him 9,328 yards for his career, which was enough to pass former New England Patriots (and Buccaneers) tight end Rob Gronkowski for the fifth-most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history.
“What an honor man,” smiled Kelce. “I was telling [Mike] Tirico before the game yesterday — him and [Cris] Collinsworth — they showed me a list of those guys that were in the top five before. Man, I remember nobody knowing who the guy in sixth place was. [I was] feeling that and turning that into fuel — you know, being able to live out your dreams to be on a list like that with those guys is such an honor.
“I’m just blessed, man. 8-7 — Rob Gronkowski — you can’t say enough about who he is as a player [and] as a person. Even to be in the same conversations as a guy like that (and the rest of the list), it’s just an honor.”
Immediately after the Week 3 loss, Kelce made it his mission to bounce back in Week 4 with a big performance. Led by Kelce (and others who took the same approach), the Chiefs attacked practice with a high level of focus and attention to detail — which ultimately led to Sunday night’s dominant performance.
Now they’ll be trying to use their new momentum as they prepare for Week 5’s Monday Night Football matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.