There have been 22 different times this season that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Travis Kelce have hooked up for a pass completion of 10 or more yards.
These "chunk plays" have come from various looks and in various situations, but perhaps none were more important than the one they connected on late in the game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the Chiefs facing a third-and-4 from their own 22-yard line early in the fourth quarter and slimly holding a 16-13 lead, Smith gave Kelce an opportunity to make the kind of play few tight ends in the NFL could make in a situation in which his team needed him the most.
"We got the look – he was isolated on the linebacker going down the middle," Smith said of that play after the game. "For me, you're kind of just throwing it up and a guy that big and fast that can go play the ball up in the air.
"It's a tough play to make as a tight end—the safeties are coming over the top, but that's one of the plays that ended up winning it for us."
Kelce ran a seam route right down the middle of the field and got over the top of the linebacker but in front of the safety.
It gave Smith a little window to deliver the football.
As the ball floated through the air in the middle of the field and in a place that only he could go up and grab it, Kelce said his mindset was only focused on one thing.
"Go get the ball, man," he said. "You've got to make a play for your quarterback. For Alex [Smith] to throw a money ball like he did, he put it right in the right place and I knew going up I had to bring that thing down."
Kelce did bring it down and it not only kept the clock going, but also created some momentum for the Chiefs offense.
"We got the chains moving on that and then Charcandrick [West] came with the huge run after that," Kelce said. "Just build momentum all the way down to the red zone and got a touchdown."
Kelce was right. The next play was a 36-yard run by West that got the Chiefs within striking distance midway through the fourth quarter. It was an opportunity to add to their lead.
Just four plays later, Smith found rookie Chris Conley in the flat for the 6-yard touchdown pass—the first of Conley's career, and it gave them the 23-13 lead and ultimately sealed the win.
"It's fun when you go out there and you get a win like that because it brings everybody together, man," Kelce said. "You've got to love that brotherhood."
Kelce finished the game with 5 receptions for a team-high 73 yards receiving, and of those 5 catches, 4 resulted in gains of 14 yards or more.
With veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin missing the game because of symptoms from the concussion he suffered last week against the Minnesota Vikings, Kelce, Conley and second-year player Albert Wilson were tasked with stepping up in the passing game, which they did.
Those three helped the Chiefs pick up a much-needed win on Sunday after losing five straight.
"We talked all week as a team, that feeling that's in the locker room—you guys are in there, you see it, it's the high of highs right there," Smith explained. "You're putting it out there for the guy next to you, to be accountable, to hold up your end and to go do that together and get a win is great."
Photos from the Chiefs week seven matchup against the Steelers