KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s a Friday tradition at Kansas City Chiefs practice for the offense, including the offensive line, to take part in a “pat-and-go” pass-catching drill.
“The linemen do their own little ‘pat and go,’ kind of a breather from hitting the sled, I guess,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Unbeknownst to the players, it was also an opportunity as Reid’s ever-watchful eye was scouting for talent.
“You get an idea of who can catch and who can’t,” Reid said. “So, if you’ve got a little bit of skill there, we’ll try to work with you. Allegretti, he’s got great hands. For a wrestler, he’s got great hands. He did a nice job.”
Chiefs backup interior lineman Nick Allegretti had no idea those “fat-and-slow” periods, the line’s tongue-in-cheek play on the pat-and-go phrasing, would yield one of the most exciting moments of his NFL career.
Early in the third quarter of Kansas City’s 42-21 win against Pittsburgh in the AFC Wild Card playoffs, Allegretti caught a 1-yard touchdown — the first of his football career at any level — and celebrated like a man possessed.
“Coach asked me what I was thinking there and, honestly, there was just pure joy and excitement,” Allegretti said. “I saw Joe (Thuney) and Creed (Humphrey) running over and there wasn’t a whole lot of thought, just like, ‘Holy cow! I can’t believe I caught a ball.’ I didn’t really think about the fact that I scored.”
After teammates mobbed Allegretti in the end zone, he hammered the ball into the turf and it went bounding away.
Running back Jerick McKinnon gave chase, tracking down the spiked football so Allegretti could keep it as a souvenir — and he has the perfect place for it now.
“They did get the ball back for me, so Pat (quarterback Patrick Mahomes) signed it and I’ll probably put that up in the house somewhere,” Allegretti said. “Just closed on a house today, so going to put that in the house. It’s a pretty cool piece of memorabilia for my career.”
Allegretti also enjoyed a nice moment with his family as he walked off GEHA Field at Arrowhead after Sunday’s win.
“Hearing my ma and my wife and my pops scream my name and getting to go give them a hug before I went in the locker room, knowing that they were there — it’s pretty cool,” Allegretti said.
Predictably, he heard from lots of former teammates — especially guys he played offensive line with at Lincoln-Way East High School in suburban Chicago, college at the University of Illinois and during his three seasons with the Chiefs.
“We kind of all celebrate this one together,” Allegretti said, later adding. “The whole O-line was super excited, and you could see it on their faces. We’re a really tight group, so the excitement was pretty mutual for everybody. So, it was really fun.”
Still, it’s not a moment he ever dreamed of, because it seemed too far-fetched for a guy whose only other career catch came in his eighth-grade football team’s finale.
“I got a couple texts that said, ‘dream come true’ and stuff like that,” Allegretti said. “It’s honestly not even a dream of mine. I didn’t have a dream to catch a ball in the league. I didn’t dream that far, so that was pretty cool.”
Allegretti declared himself to have the best hands among the Chiefs’ offensive lineman but said a few teammates — like right guard Trey Smith and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. — are “carrying around a pair of bricks” for hands.
“They’re effective for other things, though, so we’re lucky there,” Allegretti said.
After starting nine games last season, Allegretti has been relegated to a special teams role in 2021, but he tries to stay ready.
“I’m just doing whatever I can for the team at this point,” Allegretti said.
That means being prepared to play anywhere on the interior he’s needed and helping the rest of the offensive line get prepped for the Buffalo Bills, who come to Arrowhead for the AFC Divisional round at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Here’s the tale of then tape for Bills-Chiefs based on the 2021 regular season:
AFC Divisional playoffs
Buffalo Bills (11-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
Series record (last meeting): Bills lead 27-23-1 (Bills, W 38-20)
When (TV/radio): 5:30 p.m. (CBS/WDAF-106.5 FM)
TV commentators: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Gene Steratore
Spanish-language radio: KPRS-103.3 HD2