The Las Vegas Raiders proved on Monday Night Football, in front of a global audience, that they still don’t have an answer for Travis Kelce. In so many words, the Kansas City Chiefs star tight end still owns the Silver and Black. Whether Raider Nation likes it or not.
Historically, Kelce has been a thorn in the Raiders’ side. Of course, Raider Nation indulges him, which leads to further irritation for the fans. Let’s face it, along with being an elite tight end, he’s also quite the troll. Off-the-field talk aside, Kelce has recorded 1,251 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns against the Raiders, coming off 94 career receptions. Even more impressive is Kelce’s 13.3 yard per reception average against the Silver and Black; pure dominance. Raiders fans will surely balk at these stats, but numbers don’t lie.
How did Travis Kelce do against the Raiders in Week 5?
Following the game, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, reeling from yet another defeat, was asked about Kelce’s performance. Per the team’s transcript, McDaniels praised the Chiefs’ tight end but pointed out that he felt they did a solid job in certain areas.
“It was a very unique game, obviously for him. And the plan was, in many ways, effective between the 20s. We hit him, we jammed him, we doubled him. We tried to take him away a number of different ways. Unfortunately, we didn’t do a good enough job inside the 10-yard line of executing the same stuff that we were executing, I’d say fairly well at times, during the course of the game on the field.”
The red zone belonged to Kelce…
In many ways, McDaniels was right; they limited Kelce’s propensity for big plays. By the game’s conclusion, he had just 25 receiving yards to his name. Regrettably, the damage done in the red zone was pivotal; four touchdown receptions, none of them good for more than eight yards. On each of the scoring plays by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to Kelce, the Raiders tried to bump him and stay with him, but in the end, No. 87 was too much.
For example, on Kelce’s first touchdown catch at the 4:44 mark of the second quarter, you see Trevon Moehrig is responsible for Kelce. The tight end simply blows past him and, in so many words, toasts Moehrig. “It was like the yards didn’t kill you, but the critical plays in the red zone were the ones that got us,” said McDaniels regarding Kelce’s impact. In the third quarter, the Raiders’ other safety, Duron Harmon, finds himself on the end of another Kelce score. Harmon is unable to make the stop at around the one-yard line, with Kelce making the catch and turning around to punch it in. Simply put, Las Vegas’s defensive backs were outmatched. Perhaps, general manager Dave Ziegler can make it a point to draft a safety or outside linebacker that can keep up with Kelce moving forward. If not, Monday’s showing will continue to be commonplace.
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*Top Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images