Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are on a heater that even their best tandem commercial couldn’t top.
The two put on a clinic in Sunday’s win, connecting on 12 of 13 targets for 179 yards and one touchdown. The next-closest Chiefs pass catcher was Marquez Valdes-Scantling with three catches for 84 yards and a score.
Elite almost feels like an understatement at this point. Legendary is more fitting for a duo that has vaulted Kelce back to a familiar place atop the tight ends leaderboard.
“I think defenses and defensive coordinators are doing their best to cover him,” Mahomes said Wednesday when asked why defenses aren’t doing a better job of blanketing Kelce. “There’s a reason he’s Travis Kelce, he finds a way to get himself open, versus man, versus zone, versus everything. I’m just glad he’s on my team, I’ll say that.”
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“Why aren’t they covering him better?” is a humorous question, because naturally, every defense on the planet would like to eliminate Kelce from the game. Most aren’t doing so, though, which is a testament to the connection Mahomes and Kelce have built in their six-plus seasons spent together.
It’s also a product of a Chiefs offense that reached its latest peak Sunday, a 31-17 win over the Chargers in which Los Angeles couldn’t find a way to stop Kansas City on consecutive possessions until the fourth quarter.
“The (offensive) line does a good job,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We always talk with the receivers (and) tight ends about having that clock in your head. Trav has the ability to keep that thing running; how long can I do what I need to do to get open and Pat stays in tune with that. They’ve got a good connection, that’s what makes them special together. From a defensive standpoint, (if you) try to put too many guys on one guy and then the other guys have a battle so that can be a tough thing from that side.”
No one finds a soft spot in zone coverage when it is absolutely necessary like Kelce, who knows exactly when to get open to help his quarterback complete unlikely passes. But Kelce isn’t just producing; he’s also attracting attention, opening up opportunities for his pass-catching teammates to make a difference. Rookie Rashee Rice has benefitted from this, and on Sunday, Valdes-Scantling thrived, too.
Now, the responsibility shifts to a Denver defense that did a surprisingly good job of limiting Kansas City’s offense in their first meeting. They’ll need every resource available to repeat such a performance in the Mile High City this weekend.
“No. 2 [Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II] jumped on him on third downs last time we played,” Reid said. “They know who Trav is, and they had a plan there so maybe you see a little more of that or whatever but teams are taking and putting good players on Trav or are doubling him. He and Pat have a unique chemistry there.”
Mahomes and Kelce are both destined for Canton, and at this rate, they’re looking like a strong contender in the AFC. It’s difficult to sustain such production on a weekly basis, but at 6-1, the Chiefs are doing a pretty good job of it. We’ll see if Denver slow their roll Sunday.
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