Travis Kelce was injured in the Kansas City Chiefs divisional-round matchup against the Houston Texans and was considered questionable to return, but was able to come back to the game and make a major impact in one of the biggest playoff comebacks of all time.
The tight end suffered a hamstring injury during the game, which he appeared to aggravate during a touchdown run from Chiefs running back Damien Williams in the third quarter. He was back on the field later that quarter.
Before the injury, Kelce had set an NFL record for touchdowns in a quarter after catching three touchdown passes during a torrid comeback from the Chiefs. After falling down 24-o in the second quarter, the Chiefs scored four touchdowns in less than nine minutes to take a 28-24 lead at halftime. The scoring continued, with the Chiefs scoring on eight consecutive drives including seven straight touchdowns.
Kelce did not appear to be hampered upon his return to the game. Kelce remained a top target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and attracted double and sometimes triple coverage from the Texans defenders.
As Yahoo Sports noted, there was some question going into the game whether Kelce would be able to play at all. As the report noted, Kelce was dealing with tightness in a thigh tendon and was limited in practice throughout the week. He was listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game but was in the starting lineup.
Having Kelce was a major boost for the Chiefs, with his play helping spark the biggest first-half comeback in NFL history. His play was especially important given the weakness of the Houston Texans defense, which ranked 26th against the pass this season.
He has been one of the key parts of the Chiefs offense this year. Kelce this season caught 97 passes for 1,229 yards and five touchdowns, one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
That's one way to try and stop Travis Kelce … pic.twitter.com/vMsIgAw0dd
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 12, 2020
After Kelce crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season, he earned some big praise from Mahomes.
“How consistent he is on a game-to-game basis is truly special,” Mahomes said, via ESPN.
“He doesn’t look at stats. He doesn’t look at all that different stuff…. It’s a guy that you want to have on your team.”
Kelce downplayed the accomplishment, instead praising the team around him and giving credit to coach Andy Reid and the offense around him.
“Right now, it’s just a bunch of numbers,” he said.
“That being said, I’m very fortunate that I’ve been here in the Kansas City Chiefs organization under coach Andy Reid, under Clark Hunt, under the unbelievable coaches that have been here and then just being able to gain their trust. That’s everything in terms of a team sport.”
It was not clear if Kelce’s injury could linger beyond this week, but he could be an important part of the Chiefs offense if the team holds on against the Texans and advances to the AFC Championship Game. After the Tennessee Titans upset the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, the Chiefs were left in line to host the game against the No. 6 seeded Titans.