Travis Kelce caught a short dump-off pass from Patrick Mahomes a minute into overtime. He was 30 yards from pay dirt and the game-ending touchdown. Scoring would cap a division-defining victory for the Kansas City Chiefs, who had won six in a row and could bury the Los Angeles Chargers with a season sweep. The 32-year-old tight end stopped on a dime and veered in a different direction. It was if he were suddenly blessed with a protective shield preventing defenders from making contact. Or whatever that thing from Dune was. We're not talking about the new Dune enough. That movie absolutely owned.
Kelce snaked through the Los Angeles secondary slowly but surely. Once he reached the 10-yard line, he and everyone else watching this thrilling turn of events at home realized he was going to score and Nick Wright would be insufferable this morning on First Things First.
When the synthetic turf pebbles settled, Kelce had amassed a career-high 191 yards on 10 catches. His 7-yard touchdown reception with 1:16 remaining in regulation had facilitated overtime. Time and time again the six-time Pro Bowler has proven to be downright impossible to stop. Even in the biggest moments and even with a defensive gameplan designed to make one of the other devastating Chiefs skill position players make the play instead.
“It looks like he’s running slow, but he’s moving fast,” Mahomes said of his security blanket postgame.
"For him to make such a dynamic play, where he cut back, ran by people — you’d think he’s old so he can’t run by people, but he’s still running by people, and he got in the end zone. It was a special moment and I’m glad all that hard work he puts in every single day is paying off."
Kansas City went through a prolonged funk. Though the offense has looked strangely human against teams not named the Las Vegas Raiders, it's rounding into form. And Thursday night's late heroics are a good sign that it will be there when it matters come playoff time. They are, in many ways, like Kelce snagging that pass and carving through obstacles, perhaps not encountering as much resistance from the top of the AFC as expected.
Him crossing the goal line was like the final step in a return to normalcy, where the Chiefs exist as the clear team to beat in the AFC and potentially the entire NFL.