KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Travis Kelce was a toddler when he first told his mother, Donna, that he would throw a touchdown pass in the NFL one day.
Kelce beat the odds to reach the NFL, but the chances to rack up a touchdown pass seemed slim given that he’s emerged as a future Hall of Fame tight end rather than a quarterback.
But a few plays into the fourth quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-21 win Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kelce proved his 5-year-old self prophetic by zipping a 2-yard score to Byron Pringle.
“I finally got it done,” Kelce said. “It only took me nine years.”
Donna Kelce — who started her day in Tampa, Florida, to watch her oldest son, Jason, play for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Buccaneers before flying to Kansas City — got to witness the moment in person.
“That’s awesome,” she said. “It was so fun.”
Kelce is a former All-Lake Erie League quarterback for Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High School, but he’d never bragged about that to Chiefs coach Andy Reid in furtherance of his case.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had the cajones to ever tell Coach Reid that I was a high school all-league player,” Kelce said with a laugh. “That really doesn’t mean much at this level, but he knew I could throw the ball ever since the day I got there.”
Reid’s given Kelce, who had been 1 for 3 for 4 yards with an interception during his NFL passing career, chances in the past, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever get one again.
“I thought I exhausted my opportunities when I threw a pick in New York a few years ago and last year in Tampa when I threw an incompletion, so I didn’t think I was going to get another opportunity,” Kelce said. “But shoutout to Coach Reid for still having some faith in me.”
Reid acknowledged Kelce’s spotty track record, but he got a kick out of making his future Hall of Fame tight end’s TD-pass fantasy come true.
“His pass record is terrible, so I was just looking for a completion,” Reid joked. “We ended up with a touchdown. He struggled to get those before, but he did a nice job with that one.”
Reid said the Steelers’ actually gave a different look than the Chiefs expected on the play.
“But he hung with it and threw through some seams there and made a nice touch pass,” Reid said.
Even Kansas City’s actual quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was impressed — though he did have one critique of the play.
“He slid in the pocket, he dropped his arm down and made a little sidearm throw,” Mahomes said. “If it wouldn’t have scored, I would have been a little upset, because I was open in the flat. But they told him not to throw me the ball. I’ll have to talk to Coach Reid about that and maybe be the second option there.”
Kelce was arguably more impressive in his more traditional role, racking up 108 yards on five catches. His 48-yard catch and run in the closing seconds of the first half were a dagger to the Steelers’ upset hopes.
They also helped Kelce inch closer to even more history.
Only Jerry Rice has more career 100-yard receiving games in the postseason than Kelce.
Let that sink in — the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, who had eight career 100-yard games in 31 playoff appearances, is the only player in NFL history with more such games than Kelce, who has played in 12 postseason games.
Kelce, who had at least 100 yards in all three Chiefs postseason games last season, also became the first player in NFL history with four straight 100-yard playoff games.
“He’s a great player,” Reid said. “It’s just a matter of getting him the football, and he’ll do his thing.”
Reid noted that Kelce is a playoff captain, an honor voted on by his teammates.
“When he talks, they listen,” Reid said. “When he gets rolling, they like watching.”