Kelce was being tested for a concussion after taking a hit to the head. The concussion was eventually confirmed. In the meantime, Kelce assumed his Chiefs, who appeared well on their way to victory at the time of his departure, were going to win.
Imagine his surprise when the tight end finally got in front of a TV only to learn the Chiefs had fallen behind in a game they would eventually lose 22-21.
“I missed the entire second half up until the last drive," Kelce said Monday as the Chiefs began their offseason program. “I jumped out of an MRI machine and looked at the score and [wondered], ‘What the heck is going on?’ I haven’t really peeked at the film ever since because I really don’t want to know what the heck just happened.
“I don’t think the people doing the MRIs and the X-rays even watch the game. I don’t even think there’s a TV in there. I didn’t get any updates. Talk about ruin your day. All the air just left my body. I just sat down and had my fingers crossed that [quarterback Alex Smith] could go out there and make some plays and get us on to the next round."
The Chiefs destructed without Kelce. They led 14-3 when he left the game and scored a touchdown shortly afterward.
But they accomplished little on offense in the second half. Making matters worse, Kelce said he would have been available to play the following week had the Chiefs held on against the Titans and advanced in the playoffs.
The Chiefs gathered as a group for the first time since the postseason defeat on Monday. They’re back at it in hopes of avoiding a similar playoff collapse.
The offense looks more difficult to shut down now. Patrick Mahomes II has replaced Smith at quarterback. And the Chiefs' group of skill players, which includes Kelce, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, is among the NFL's best.
“The sky is the limit," said Kelce, who led the Chiefs last season with 83 catches and eight receiving touchdowns. “We’ve got Pro Bowl-caliber, top-notch wide receivers. You can move that into the tight end room and even the running back room. We get Spencer Ware back and we’ve added some pieces in there. It’s exciting and it’s something we’re going to have to do together, knowing Pat’s situation and him coming into a role with a lot of scrutiny at the quarterback position. It’s definitely going to be a team effort to try to get him rolling.
“It’s exciting to see where this offense can go."
Everyone at Chiefs headquarters, it seems, is excited about the possibilities with Mahomes at quarterback. He played well in his only game last season as a rookie, and the decisiveness with which the Chiefs traded Smith -- he was sent to the Washington Redskins about three weeks after the Titans game -- would seem to indicate that they can’t wait for the Mahomes era to begin.
Kelce, like many of his teammates, has said he respected the efforts of Smith. But he also has had a front-row view of Mahomes’ abilities and is eager to see those attributes on a regular basis.
“The throws he makes in practice, it’s mind-blowing," Kelce said. “It’s hard to explain how good this guy can be if he just puts it all together. The biggest challenge is just the timing of the offense, and that comes with repetition in the offseason program and getting to know his wide receivers. It’s going to be fun, and at the same time, we’re going to have to grow together."