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Travis Kelce Puts Together Strong Performance on Sunday

The fourth-year tight end paced the Chiefs offense on Sunday

The Kansas City Chiefs finished the first half of Sunday's game against the New York Jets having converted 6 of 9 third-down opportunities, and on two of those conversions, tight end Travis Kelce took short crossing routes up the field for a gains of 10 and 15 yards, respectively.

The ball was in his hands quickly and Kelce simply did the rest.

"You know, I think coach did a great job moving him around and not letting defensives zero in on him as much," quarterback Alex Smith said after the game. "To be honest, I think it comes down to the other guys making plays – especially early. It allowed [Kelce] to be singled up at times.

"He's just a heck of a player. He wins a majority of the time."

As a group, the Chiefs tight ends caught 10 passes on the day, with Demetrius Harris (2 catches for 14 yards) and Ross Travis (2 catches for 10 yards) getting in the mix as well.

But it was Kelce's six catches for 89 yards that not only led both teams on Sunday, it was also more than double the amount of yards receiving as any other player who took the field (outside of linebacker Derrick Johnson, who had a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown).

Despite the Jets mixing things up, the Chiefs, particularly in the first half, found a way to get Kelce involved.

"They covered him with corners, they covered him with safeties," Smith added. "They tried to double him at times."

Kelce's six receptions included five that went for 10 yards or more, and they came in a variety of ways and with him lining up in different places, but one of the constants was to get the ball in his hands quickly and let him do the rest.

Outside of the 12-yard touchdown, which prominently displayed his athletic ability to be able to turn the corner up field and dive into the corner of the end zone for the only Chiefs offensive touchdown of the day, the play that really demonstrated what Kelce brings to the table came early in the second half, and wound up being his only reception in the final 30 minutes of the game.

Early in the third quarter, Kelce was lined up out wide to the right and was facing man coverage against the Jets young safety and former first-round pick out of Louisville back in 2014, Calvin Pryor.

The Jets were in their base personnel package (three defensive linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs) against the Chiefs two-tight end set.

The Chiefs lined up fellow tight end Ross Travis, along with receivers Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley, out to the left, basically isolating Kelce on the far side to the right in one-on-one coverage.

Soon after the snap, Smith, who was in shotgun with running back Spencer Ware to his right, took one quick drop step and then looked Kelce's way.

The Jets linebacker on the side the ball would be thrown quickly darted to the flat to cover Ware, who immediately broke to the flat towards where Kelce was lined up, thus opening a lane behind him, and because of the way Kelce set up his route and got Pryor off balance—leaning to the outside—there would be a perfect window for Smith to deliver a strike, which he did.

After that, it was all Kelce, who raced 42 yards down the field and finished off the play by stiff-arming Jets defensive back Marcus Gilchrist, who attempted to make the tackle.

It was the longest offensive play of the game for either team.

"I thought [Kelce] played well," Reid explained on Monday. "Are there some things he could work on? Sure. There are some things he needs to take care of. For the most part though, he ran some crisp routes, caught the ball well, yards after the catch were good, his inline blocking was good for the most part and there's always room to improve on perimeter blocking."


Kelce currently ranks No. 2 in the NFL among tight ends in yards receiving with 197 on the season.

Overall, the offense took a step forward on Sunday compared to their performance last week against the Houston Texans, and Kelce admitted that getting a lead for the first time all season was a step in the right direction.

"It felt good to get on top and get going early," Kelce said. "We were able to be accountable for the quarterback and for the coaches. We put in a lot of hard work during the week and it's got to show on Sunday. I think we're getting the best out of ourselves.

"There's still a few mistakes we need to clean up. As a team, we need to come out and put it all together. But at the same time, you've got to cherish every win you can get in the NFL."

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