Celebrating KC’s psychic sidekicks

Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and quarterback Patrick Mahomes have bonded on and off the football field. Their teamwork helped lead the Chiefs to a dramatic win Sunday.

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Sports

November 24, 2020 - 9:50 AM

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce makes a reception in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers Nov. 8. Photo by Rich Sugg / The Kansas City Star / TNS

An hour or so after the last time the Chiefs played the Raiders, tight end Travis Kelce presented this cryptic-but-tortured post on Twitter: “I HAVE TO BE BETTER!! For my teammates and coaches … . this loss is on me … and the only way to fix it is to go to work ASAP!!”

For the record, Kelce had eight catches for 108 yards in that 40-32 loss. But when he at last spoke with the media a few weeks later, he allowed as how he had been guilty of “running routes that weren’t called, and I screwed the team doing it. Stuff that you won’t see on the film, you won’t see on the stats.”

So maybe it was fitting that he scored the game-winning touchdown Sunday night in the Chiefs’ 35-31 rematch victory in Las Vegas on a play that you will see plenty on the film and in the stats … but also that reflected what can’t be seen: the virtually telepathic dynamics between Kelce and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The play featured Tyreek Hill as the primary option along the left sideline, at least as Mahomes explained it late Sunday night, enough so that Mahomes looked that way a second time as he scrambled. Meanwhile, Kelce initially misread the coverage.

“I’m not going to lie; I kind of got tricked on it,” he said.

So instinct took over as he continued downfield.

“I felt an opening on the opposite hash” he said, smiling. “Might as well go where the void is,”

Meanwhile, with Mahomes on the move as a threat to run, he lured a safety his way and instantly knew where Kelce would gravitate.

Because, after all …

“I feel like I see and I feel what Patrick sees back there in the pocket sometimes,” said Kelce, who had eight catches for 127 yards.

Part of that sense comes from their close off-the-field relationship and earned chemistry through practice, practice, practice. Part of it comes from Kelce’s own past as a quarterback, which evidently was at play in coach Andy Reid trusting him earlier in the game to make an underhand red-zone pass to Byron Pringle with Mahomes in motion. The play was good for 4 yards and a first-and-goal.

“Slot Machine Right,” Kelce said it was called, adding, “I was hoping we would have hit all 7s on that son of a buck.”

At least it was more sound than the interception Kelce threw on his only other career pass in 2017. Not that there wasn’t room for criticism:

While calling Kelce’s pass execution “sweet,” Mahomes seemed to wonder if it was time for Kelce to reciprocate with a pass to him.

“I was even open a little bit in the flat if he wanted to sling it out there as well,” he said.

Another time, perhaps.

Or not: Their more traditional exchanges are more than ample, enough so that it’s becoming more and more easy to envision Kelce on trajectory to the Pro Football Hall of Fame … where Mahomes already seems a foregone conclusion to land.

With his 23rd career 100-yard game on Sunday, Kelce passed Jackie Smith to move into fourth place among tight ends in NFL history. His next such game will tie him with Kellen Winslow and leave him trailing only Tony Gonzalez (31) and Rob Gronkowski (28) in that category.

In his eighth season, he now has 573 career receptions — three more than Gonzalez had at this point in his career. In Chiefs lore, he already has arrived at second in career receiving yards (7,361) behind Gonzalez (10,940) after passing Otis Taylor (7,306) on Sunday.

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