BALTIMORE — Travis Kelce never wanted a game more.
He never wanted to have Taylor Swift waiting for him with a hug and a kiss on the field more than he did after Chiefs 17, Ravens 10 in the AFC Championship game Sunday.
“Honestly, I could tell that he loved this victory more than any victory this season,” Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice said, “just ’cause we came in as outlaws and was able to come in and dominate as a team.”
But Kelce (11 catches, 116 yards, 1 TD on 11 targets) passed Jerry Rice for most career catches in the postseason (151) when he caught an 8-yard pass in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium.
It was his seventh catch of a nine-catch first half.
Kelce’s eighth playoff game with at least 100 receiving yards tied Rice’s record for most in league history.
Kelce, 34, is up to 156 postseason receptions, and is second all time with 1,810 postseason receiving yards.
Patrick Mahomes cherishes Kelce every bit as much as Tom Brady cherished his tight end, Rob Gronkowski.
“He loves the challenge,” Mahomes said. “All week, and rightfully so, we heard about how great their defense was, and they were, I mean, they shut us out in the second half. But for Travis, that’s like, ‘All right, what can I do against this great defense?’ He has that mindset, and he led us like that. Every single practice, every single walk-through, he was focused in, he was locked in bringing energy, and it makes my job a lot easier when you have a guy that’s in that room, that tight end room, that receiving room, and he can lead those young guys and show ’em how we go and lead us to an AFC Championship.”
Marquez Valdes-Scantling marveled at the chemistry between Mahomes and Kelce.
“Having two of the best to ever do it on the same team at the same time, I don’t think you can go wrong with that,” Valdes-Scantling said. “They’re always on the same page. They don’t have to look at each other. Travis is one of those guys, he’s a freestyler. And Pat’s also one of those guys who’s also a freestyler, so they can freestyle and not know what each other’s gonna do and still be on the same page.
Kelce did not appear in the postgame interview room.
His best catch was waiting for him.