Early in the third quarter, the league’s best at their respective positions connected for their second touchdown of the evening. It was 16th postseason touchdown they had shared — the most in league history.
Most postseason touchdowns by QB-receiver duo in NFL history:— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2024
- Patrick Mahomes & Travis Kelce (16)
- Tom Brady & Rob Gronkowski (15)
- Joe Montana & Jerry Rice (12) pic.twitter.com/ed2cEvXzWf
Speaking before Wednesday’s practice as his team prepares for Sunday’s AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, head coach Andy Reid compared the duo to others he’s seen during an NFL coaching career that goes back to 1992, including quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Sterling Sharpe with the Green Bay Packers — along with Donovan McNabb paired up with Terrell Owens, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the Philadelphia Eagles.
“They’ve got a special chemistry,” said Reid of his current duo. “I experienced it with Brett and Sharpe; they were phenomenal together. Then I experienced with T.O. and Donovan; they were great together. DeSean Jackson stepped in — and they had chemistry there with Jeremy. And then, [I] come here and these guys develop this chemistry.”
The Chiefs’ all-time leader in head-coaching wins cannot, however, explain exactly what makes such a connection possible.
“I’ve been fortunate to be around that,” acknowledged Reid, “but it’s hard to explain why and how these guys connect like that — but they do. They both have a great feel for the game. And then they have a great feel for what the other one sees — and is going to do — in a very short time span.”
Mahomes credited his success with Kelce to a shared focus on team goals.
“At the end of the day,” noted Mahomes, “we want to compete. We want to go out there and win. We don’t care how it’s done. We don’t care if we have a lot of yards [or] a lot of touchdowns. We just want to win. You can see that when you hear him talk: it’s about everyone’s success — not just his.
“I respect that. He was here before I got there, so I could see that from Day 1 when I stepped in the building. When you have a bunch of guys that really want to win — no matter what it takes and no matter who gets to shine — that’s when you get the really good football teams.”
Against Buffalo, Kelce recorded five catches for 75 yards to go along with his two scores. It was a breakout he needed after his 2023 season had closed on a rough stretch. The future Pro Football Hall of Fame didn’t reach the end zone after Week 10 — and for the first time since 2015, failed to record 1,000 receiving yards.
Some have suggested that Kelce’s lifestyle is becoming a distraction. Since Kansas City’s Super Bowl LVII victory, Kelce has been everywhere. He’s appeared in many commercials, taken multiple entertainment opportunities — and even managed a high-profile celebrity romance that you may have heard about. But Mahomes isn’t buying the criticism.
“Travis has always been Travis at the end of the day,” he declared. “It’s been cool to watch for me because, obviously he has all that attention, but he’s just been himself the whole time. He’s still Travis Kelce.
“He still will walk through the stadium and treat every single person like they’re his best friend — and he’s going to be like that in the locker room every single day. It hasn’t been any different to me. I’ve come to work every single day — and [I’m] lucky enough that I have a lot of great players around me. Travis is one of them.”
There’s one Kansas City defender who has a unique perspective on what Mahomes and Kelce can do in the postseason. As a member of the Houston Texans in the 2019 postseason, safety Justin Reid saw his team go up 24-0 in his team’s playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. But then the Chiefs came to life, delivering an improbable 51-31 victory. Mahomes and Kelce connected for three touchdowns in the comeback win.
“It was just a tough matchup — because those guys are both so cerebral and smart and have played a lot of football,” recalled Reid. “Their chemistry is at a level that they’re able to create their own routes, so it’s almost impossible to defend.
“You’re planning [is based] on what you see on tape. Then you get to the game [and] you see the same formations. [But Mahomes] does something different based on what he sees — and they’re on the same page; they’re able to get the ball to each other.
“It’s truly a dynamic (and special relationship) that those two have — both on the field and off the field. It’s a lot more fun to be on this side of it than be the guy defending it.”