Strong communication has allowed Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce to enjoy one of the NFL‘s great partnerships. That communication allowed them to complete a pass that saved the Chiefs‘ season late in Sunday night’s 42-36 divisional round overtime victory against the Bills.
Trailing 36-33 with eight seconds left, Mahomes was overheard yelling “Do it, Kels!” before the snap. Not surprisingly, Mahomes threw to his sure-handed tight end, who completed the 25-yard play with three seconds to spare, setting up the Chiefs in field goal range. Harrison Butker sent the game to overtime when he booted a 49-yarder on the ensuing play. The Chiefs won the game in overtime when Kelce pulled down Mahomes’ third touchdown pass of the night.
“[Kelce] wasn’t necessarily supposed to do that, but after the timeout, we got a look at what the defense was doing,” Mahomes said of the audible. “He actually said it to me. He said, ‘Hey, if they do it again, I’m going to take it right down the middle between both guys guarding me. He went up the field, I gave him the ball, and we got into field goal range.”
“It’s a pretty common defense in a situation like that,” Kelce said of the Bills’ late-game coverage. “The defense is trying to take away the sideline throws and kind of give you more of the seams and the middle of the field open. That and they’re softening off, so you can get a head start.
“I told [Mahomes] that I probably am not going to run the route that is called. I’m just going to run to the open area. Probably midway through his cadence, he was screaming at me at the line of scrimmage to do it. Like, ‘Do it! Do it!’ I was like, alright, here we go, boys.”
Kelce’s heads-up play helped the Chiefs win while advancing to their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game. Kansas City’s upcoming opponent will be the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that defeated the Chiefs earlier this month. The Bengals’ defense will surely be looking to contain Kelce, who has caught 96 passes for 1,196 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 career playoff games.