Chiefs’ Travis Kelce continues to lead NFL tight ends, standing among best in history

Picture of Travis Kelce v. Broncos

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – DECEMBER 15: Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a play against the Denver Broncos in the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Travis Kelce has never cared much about individual statistics, even though the Kansas City Chiefs tight end has been putting up some eye-popping numbers ever since he arrived in the NFL seven years ago.

He’s the consummate team-first player. The only number that matters to him is the number of wins.

Well, all those catches and yards and touchdowns that Kelce keeps piling up happen to be a big factor in the number of victories the Chiefs have accumulated over the years. Kelce caught another 11 passes for 142 yards in leading them to a 23-3 rout of the Denver Broncos on Sunday, allowing them to keep pace in the race for a first-round playoff bye in the AFC.

“Right now it’s just a bunch of numbers. Honestly, I’m focused on winning games,” said Kelce, who became the first tight end in NFL history with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. “It being a team sport, the individual accolades, you know, I like to kind of push them aside and try to focus on how I can get better for my teammates.”

Get better? Maintaining his level of excellence is probably good enough.

Kelce has 1,131 yards receiving, which means he’s closing in on another season that would rank among the top 10 in Chiefs history. The four seasons of 1,000 yards are matched only by tight ends Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Rob Gronkowski — though none of them did it consecutively. And with 6,367 yards through his first seven seasons, Kelce has already shattered the NFL record for a tight end at this point in his career.

Making that last mark even more impressive is the fact that Kelce played one game and didn’t catch a pass as a rookie. He underwent microfracture surgery on his knee and that delayed the start of his career. So really, he has more than 6,000 yards receiving in less than six full seasons, which puts him on pace with some of the league’s best wide receivers.

“I mean, just how consistent he is on a game-to-game basis is truly special,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “He’s trying to win each game. He’s a competitor. He doesn’t look at the stats. He doesn’t look at all that stuff. He’s a competitor trying to win a football game. He’s a guy you want on your team.”

Especially this time of the year. Some of Kelce’s best games have come late in the season and in the playoffs, and the Chiefs (10-4) could use a few more of them. They need to win their last two games against the Bears and Chargers and hope for the Patriots to lose to get a first-round playoff bye.

“Travis is unbelievable,” Chiefs offensive lineman Austin Reiter said. “I love that guy.”

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