Travis Kelce challenged his teammates after the Chiefs’ stunning 12-9 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, but he started with himself.
“We have to man up,” Kelce said. “Nobody is pointing fingers but guys have to get called out and be more accountable, and that starts with myself.”
Kelce was involved in several big plays for the Chiefs, good and bad. His 32-yard reception was the critical play on the Chiefs’ final possession in regulation, which resulted in a field goal that sent the game to overtime.
He also couldn’t control a shovel pass that resulted in an Alex Smith interception late in the first quarter. The Giants were set up at the Chiefs’ 26 and the drive resulted in the game’s only touchdown.
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The other miscue occurred in the fourth quarter. Kelce lined up in the backfield, took a lateral on the left side and started moving to his right.
It was a pass all the way, the first attempt of his career. Kelce launched a tight spiral and it had the distance. The receiver seemed to have a step on the defender.
But the throw caught too much of the middle of the field, and safety Landon Collins was there for the interception.
The turnover with 6:36 remaining in regulation didn’t crush the Chiefs, who forced a punt. But they had just picked up a first down and seemed in position to perhaps burn clock and work into the range of kicker Harrison Butker, who made all three of his field-goal attempts Sunday.
On a day when Smith had perhaps his worst game of the season, completing 27 of 40 passes for 230 yards and two interceptions, his most reliable weapon was Kelce, who caught eight passes for 109 yards, matching a season high for receptions and surpassing 100 yards in a game for the fourth time this season.
Kelce was targeted 14 times, the second most of his career.
Even with the Chiefs struggling, they were at their best on the final drive of regulation, moving 69 yards in six plays and reaching the 5. Five seconds remained, but not enough time to run a play and get the field-goal unit on if it failed. So Butker came on and booted a game-tying 23-yard field goal.
When the Chiefs won the toss and took the ball to begin the 10-minute overtime, they felt like momentum was on their side. But they couldn’t collect more than one first down and gave the ball back to the Giants. The Chiefs didn’t get the ball back. They trudged off the field and filed into a dejected locker room, looking for answers.
“You have to go out there and make plays, but we didn’t,” Kelce said.
The Giants did, and Kelce said had a sense they’d get the best shot from a team that entered the game with a 1-8 record. New York coach Ben McAdoo called a team meeting and was “brutally honest,” in questioning his team’s desire to finish games.
“I saw this, not this outcome, but this effort and this attention to detail coming a mile away,” Kelce said. “Just because of all the stuff you heard in the media with (McAdoo) challenging them. Our job is to go out there and match it. We fell short.”