Editor’s note: A version of this story was originally published on the 18th. November 2020 published. The story was republished before the Chiefs appeared in the LV Super Bowl.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With the margin for error already narrow in the second quarter of last season’s game against the Houston Texans, it was no coincidence that quarterback Patrick Mahomes was up against Travis Kelce in Kansas City.
Mahomes played football on his own and threw three touchdown passes in the quarter, while the Chiefs overcame a 24-point deficit to take the lead at halftime and ultimately win the game. This is just one example of what makes Mahomes and Kelce – teammates on the field and friends off it – the best combination of pastimes in their time.
Against the Texans in January, the alchemy was clear. On the third trip of Houston 6, with the Chiefs 10 yards behind, Kelce took her course to starboard as planned. But he saw an open pocket in the Texans’ blanket in the middle of the field. That’s where Kelsey wanted to go, and that’s where Mahomes wanted him to go.
1. POSSIBLE. GAME pic.twitter.com/nAuEFXmJmQ
– Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 12, 2020
The improvised route ended in a touchdown and left the Chiefs one point away from catching up with the Texans. They did it just minutes after another trip from Mahomes to Kielce.
Mahomes said of Kielce that his understanding of sidewalks and the way he drives is special. I think that’s the best part of his game. He’s clearly physically gifted and not compatible with the guys on the field – defenders, corners, whoever.
But the way he can plan his routes based on his coverage and adjust his routes to be in the right place at the right time is special. That’s what’s going to help me get a ton out of it. … These are things that not everyone understands. I think it’s just that he thinks like a quarterback and he understands the whole concept of the game, that he lets others open up and he opens himself up when he needs to.
|Play-offs at any time||Gronk||Kielce|
|Get a DT||1.||2.|
Over the past three seasons, including the playoffs, Mahomes and Kelce have each completed 33 touchdown passes. It is by far the best for a quarterback and tight end in this era, and puts them in the company of other greats of the last decade. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski had 28 Patriots from 2015 to 2017 and Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham had 35 Saints from 2012 to 2014.
There’s definitely karma between those two, said Denver coach Vic Fangio, who saw Kelce make 11 passes for 142 yards in the snow against the Broncos last season. You can specify routes and both are on the same page.
He’s a hard man to cover. He’s about the right size. He has a keen sense of direction, he knows when to turn and when not to, when to stay on the right route. Obviously Mahomes is very comfortable throwing to him because he’s a big guy, and he was often on [defensive backs] so he passes to him, but he always runs very good routes.
Fangio calls it karma. Others call it chemistry. This may be reinforced by the fact that they are friends off the field. They have participated in sporting events together, such as the Final Four. After the LIV Super Bowl victory parade, the couple performed together at a Post Malone concert. During the summer, they participated together in a Celebrity America golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. It was Kelce who gave Mahomes his Madden NFL 2020 99 necklace, as a sign of his ideal ranking in video games. Mahomes returned the favor later that year.
Unusually, a move Mahomes and Kelsey disagree on. An example of their synchronization is a touchdown in the playoffs against the Texans.
Another is the first quarter of this season’s week six game against the Buffalo Bills. When the Chiefs were up 11 on the Bills, Kelce found an open spot on defense after he got ahead of a defender on one end and then cut off the other. Mahomes held the ball until Kelsey arrived.
The shot caught the attention of ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, who was watching the game.
I don’t know, and it’s a bit of an assumption on my part, but I think those two kids had very free parents, meaning their parents just let them play in the yard, Orlowski said. They didn’t need private training to run on the 40 or private training to pitch. They learned their skills, so to speak, by playing tag in the garden or on the street.
Trav put us first.
– Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 19, 2020
This is something directly related to their experiences when they were young. I absolutely believe that. They both have excellent spatial awareness. They both have a more developed sense of colour than humans. The spots are very slow for them. Я ? I see the fog and I’m stunned. Do you? They see the blur, and things slow down a lot for them. They are very unstructured. This touchdown is a perfect example. … They have the same authority in this area.
Kelce is the first NFL team to have five consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and set a single season record for receiving yards with 1,416 yards at the end of the season.
Kelce played quarterback in high school and freshman year at the University of Cincinnati. He says this experiment helps him decipher the cover-ups.
I see the report, I see where they are, and …. I know where the ball is going, Kelsey said. The most important thing for the journey I’m on is to know what the defense does, to know what it does, to know how it’s lit. Once you know the coverage, you can now start manipulating the defense. You can show them where you want to go and what you want to open up to.
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Kelce played hockey and basketball when he was younger, highlighting some of the skills he learned as he transitioned to football. Kielce, in particular, is an easy fit for a 260-pound player.
Just putting your foot on the ground and having a big body to change direction, I think it’s huge, he said. I don’t think many tight ends are suited for that.
I learned a lot from hockey when I was younger. I could skate indoors and outdoors, and on the basketball court I could just put my foot on the ground and get over it. … The ability to incorporate other sports into my game definitely helped me.
The result is usually ugly for the chiefs when Mahomes and Kelce play an unusual match in which things go wrong between them. Mahomes’ first interception of the season came off a pass to Kelce in the Chiefs’ Week 5 loss against the Raiders.
After the game, Mahomes said, without naming specific receivers, that the chiefs just need to manage the offense as it is called and how it [should be managed].
I HAVE TO BE BETTER THAN THIS! !! For my teammates and coaches…. this loss is on me…. and the only way to fix it is to get to work as soon as possible !!!!
– Travis Kelce (@tkelce) October 11, 2020
Kelsey took the blame for the loss on Twitter.
I’m always frustrated watching this movie, Kelsey said recently. Later in the game, I got a little frustrated trying to make the game look bigger than it actually was. I took routes that didn’t need it and pissed off the team. Things that you don’t see in the movies, that you don’t see in the statistics, but that I took to heart. I was just frustrated and I was trying to be there for my quarterback by doing the right thing, which I didn’t do. I just have to play in the system and execute the plays that are called.
We have a lot of freedom in this offense to try to get on the field and make plays. He had his own success story. Sometimes it works, but at that point there was no more room to play in the game. I couldn’t do that and I ruined the team because of it.
This kind of thing doesn’t happen often between Mahomes and Kelce, especially in the red zone. That’s one of the reasons Kelce reached the pinnacle of her career with 11 touchdowns in the regular season.
They have a great system that is designed to take the ball all the way to the end, Caroline coach Matt Rhule said prior to the Panthers’ game against the Chiefs. Looking back to Andy Reid’s time in Philadelphia, tight play was always an important part of the offense.
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The coaches did a great job of incorporating different ways of throwing the ball into the tight game. You just have to do it really well.
Reed had some good passes in his 14 seasons with the Eagles, but Kelce was the first 1,000 yard receiver at that position. And Kelcey’s numbers have improved since Mahomes became the starting quarterback in 2018. The three best seasons in terms of catches and yards are three full seasons with Mahomes, and this season is the best of them all.
If Mahomes was good for Kelce, it’s just as true that the tight end play was good for the quarterback.
Of course I’m a big fan of Pat’s, Kelsey said. I think he’s the best player in the National Football League. You can’t tell me there’s a better quarterback than him, that’s for sure.
When Pat came into the caucus, things were a little different. I think he brought a different energy and a different style of play than even I’m more used to, just going out to play ball in the backyard, kind of like football. As he progresses, begins to learn more about defense, and puts himself in the shoes of defensive coordinators, his game will continue to rise, probably to a level we’ve never seen before – if what he’s doing now isn’t something we’ve never seen before. It’s fun to be the bosses of Kansas City, and that’s because there are probably 15 of them in the building.
frequently asked questions
Why is Mahomes the best?
Mahomes is the first player in NFL history to score 25 touchdowns in one season before having his second interception. In 2018, he was abducted 12 times and lost two groping jobs. (He hasn’t conceded a goal yet this season).
Are Mahomes and Kelsey friends?
This is just one example of what makes Mahomes and Kelce – teammates on the field and friends off it – the best combination of pastimes in their time. Against the Texans in January, the alchemy was clear.
Who is the best Chiefs player of all time?
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