Kansas City Chiefs

Why Chiefs’ Travis Kelce’s game-winning Week 11 score looked familiar

The game-winning touchdown from Travis Kelce in Week 11 just might look a bit familiar to you. That’s because the Kansas City Chiefs used the same exact play to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers in overtime at SoFi Stadium during Week 15 a season ago.

Shoutout to NBC Sports columnist Peter King, who learned from Kelce after the game that they’d run the same play against the Chargers last season and wrote about it in his FMIA column.

Both plays resulted in a touchdown, but there were a few key differences. The Chargers played a softer zone coverage the first time around, it was the same 3×1 set from Kansas City with the same crossing motions from the slot receiver and Kelce. He simply had to cut the play to the opposite side of the field instead of running the intended route.

Check out the play from 2021 below:

One key difference is that the Chiefs disguised this formation this time around with Justin Watson motioning across. That didn’t really allow Los Angeles to identify it and adjust pre-snap. The Chargers were also in man coverage, allowing Kelce to beat Derwin James off the line of scrimmage and run that route as intended this time.

Here is the play from the Week 11 win in 2022:


It seems that the man coverage is what gave Patrick Mahomes the confidence to go to Kelce on this touchdown-scoring play.

“If he is man-to-man, I am going to give him a chance,” Mahomes said of Kelce after the game. “He’s going to win most of them. Obviously, they have Derwin (James). Derwin is going to win his battles because he’s probably the best safety in the league. I am going to give my guy a chance because I know how special he is.”

When the Chiefs meet the Chargers again, likely in the 2023 NFL season, they might need to come up with a new variation of this one for Kelce. It’s hard to imagine that they’d get beat by it a third time.