KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Travis Kelce will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, so it’s saying something when the Kansas City Chiefs’ three-time first-team All-Pro has a career day.
Kelce absolutely did just that — roasting the Los Angeles Chargers for a career-high 191 yards on 10 catches and finding the end zone twice, including on a 34-yard walk-off touchdown in overtime Thursday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
“You would think he’s old, so he can’t run by people, but he’s still running by people,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “When he got in the end zone, it was such a special moment and I’m glad all that hard work he puts in every single day is paying off.”
With his long strides and deceptive speed, Kelce snaked his way through the Chargers’ defense for a 69-yard gain as the Chiefs mounted their comeback with three straight touchdowns drives to close out the game.
“Everybody’s talking about him losing a step or being off his game, here he steps up and looked pretty fast to me,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
That play, the longest of the season for Kelce, set up a game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.
After Los Angeles retook the lead, Kelce’s 7-yard touchdown catch with 1:16 remaining eventually forced overtime.
“He’s slippery with his routes," Mahomes said. "It’s hard to even imagine. His shoulders start rocking, and that’s why he can dance, I think. He’s running — and it looks like he’s running slow, but he’s moving fast. I think you’ve seen that on some of the long runs he’s had.”
Kelce had been limited to three catches and 27 yards in each of the last two games, wins against Denver and Las Vegas, and had only scored two touchdowns in the previous 11 games, but he never lost faith.
Prior to the Chiefs’ game against the Chargers, Kelce saw a video of his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, that talked about hope.
“Not only do we have to believe in ourselves, but we give a lot of hope and a lot of happiness to the people watching,” Kelce said when asked about the substance of the video. “How fortunate is that, man? ... Don’t let doubt seep in — and that’s a life lesson right there."
Mahomes, for one, never doubted that Kelce was primed for a monster play — or monster game — at any moment.
With his career day, Kelce topped 1,000 yards for the sixth straight season. He’s now caught 83 passes for 1,066 yards with seven touchdowns.
No other NFL tight end has ever had more than three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons or more than four in their career, but that’s not what drives Kelce.
“It’s not about the numbers, it’s about winning football games,” Mahomes said. “This year has been big for him, where he hasn’t put up the same numbers, but his mentality has never changed. He’s been a leader on this team. He’s more happy for anyone other than himself.”