June 23, 2024

The indication that it could be a memorable night for Travis Kelce surfaced well before the start of the AFC Divisional Round Game. Prior to kickoff, Jason Kelce, Travis’ brother, made a pit stop at a Buffalo Bills tailgate, participating in a unique drinking ritual involving a shot-style beverage consumed from what seemed to be a bowling ball. Another celebratory moment unfolded inside the stadium when a shirtless Jason, holding a beer can, left his suite to join fans in the stands, commemorating Travis’ first touchdown reception from Patrick Mahomes as the Chiefs secured a 27-24 victory over the Bills. This touchdown marked a historic achievement.

Mahomes and Kelce’s touchdown connection in the playoffs has reached a remarkable 16 times, establishing a new NFL record. This surpasses the previous record held by Tom Brady, who connected with Rob Gronkowski for postseason touchdowns 15 times during their time together with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Additionally, Joe Montana threw 12 playoff touchdowns to Jerry Rice while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

Mahomes and Kelce extended their lead in the record books when they collaborated for a second touchdown. Mahomes expressed the importance of getting the ball to Travis, stating, “Passing anything that has Brady and Gronk in it is special. Those are two of the greatest players — and Tom is the greatest — so you appreciate that.” While Mahomes and Kelce have frequently connected in the playoffs, it had been a while since they had found each other for a touchdown during this season.

Kelce concluded the regular season with five touchdown receptions, marking his lowest total since 2016. He had not scored since the Chiefs’ Week 11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite this, in Sunday’s game with five receptions for 75 yards, Kelce moved closer to becoming the most prolific pass catcher in NFL playoff history. With a total of 145 playoff receptions, he is now only six receptions behind Jerry Rice, the all-time leader, who participated in 29 postseason games with the 49ers, Raiders, and Seahawks. The AFC Divisional Round game against the Bills marked Kelce’s 20th appearance in the playoffs. Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who contributed two receptions for 62 yards, recognizes that he is playing alongside one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Valdes-Scantling emphasized the immense value that Kelce brings to the team, noting that touchdowns alone don’t fully reflect his impact. He praised Kelce as the best player ever to play the game at his position, highlighting that there’s no dip in performance when Kelce is on the field. Valdes-Scantling also acknowledged Kelce’s ability to continue producing impressive numbers even as he approaches age 39.

At 34 years old, Kelce continues to find the end zone. In Sunday’s game, the first touchdown occurred from the 22-yard line. This followed a previous series where Mahomes had missed similar routes to both Kelce and Valdes-Scantling, resulting in overthrown balls and the Chiefs settling for a Harrison Butker field goal. Reflecting on the missed opportunities, Mahomes stated, “I thought that was going to really hurt us because of how their offense was playing. But we were able to get back to it. It was actually a different coverage, and they ended up dropping Travis.” Kelce found himself wide open on the reception, walking into the end zone. In celebration, he threw the ball high into the stands, not far from the suite where Jason was watching alongside Taylor Swift. This touchdown gave the Chiefs their first lead at 13-10.

The second touchdown, a 3-yard tight end screen, marked the conclusion of the opening possession in the second half. This achievement represented the fourth multi-touchdown playoff game in Kelce’s career. Although Kelce did not address reporters after the game, his noteworthy evening and Jason’s celebration of his brother’s historic performance are expected to contribute to an animated discussion on the upcoming New Heights podcast when the two reunite later this week.

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