All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce (Reserve/COVID-19 list) wasn’t in the lineup against Pittsburgh, which removed a member of the offense that opposing defenses typically key in on to try to stop quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
If I were to tell you that Kelce wasn’t in the lineup, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill only gathered two catches for 19 yards against the Steelers, the assumption would be that Kansas City lost that game, right?
Well, that wasn’t the case.
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Without Kelce and with little production from Hill, the Chiefs offense still managed 381 yards of total offense against the Steelers, which was driven by a three-touchdown, zero-turnover performance from Mahomes. That offensive performance guided the AFC-leading Kansas City squad to a 36-10 drubbing of Pittsburgh.
So who was the primary beneficiary of two of the NFL’s top offensive threats being irrelevant for Kansas City? Look no further than a third-year, undrafted receiver who is developing into one of the NFL’s hidden gems:
And what did he credit his massive performance to? Fishing.
Against the Steelers, Pringle caught six passes on seven targets for 75 yards and two touchdowns. His ability to make plays downfield was prevalent with his 12.5 yards per reception, but what was even more impressive were his yards after the catch.
Take Pringle’s second touchdown in Week 16 for example; on what ended up being a 16-yard score for the Kansas State product, Pringle was able to make three Steelers defenders miss him in the open field in the red zone. The play wound up being a very unexpected touchdown given the number of defensive bodies around Pringle when he caught the football.
What’s With the Fishing?
Let’s get to how fishing is tied into Pringle’s performance.
After the game, Pringle explained how patience helped him be prepared for his opportunity against the Steelers, and that patience was developed through fishing.
“I fish a lot and you never know when the fish are going to bite the bait. It teaches you patience. Just go in and grind and don’t look who is around you,” Pringle said during his postgame press conference on Sunday, December 26. “As long as we get that W at the end of the game, that is all that matters to me as a player. As a teammate, as long as we win and execute the plan and I took advantage of the opportunity that was given to me. I am okay with it.”
Despite being behind one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for three seasons on the depth chart, Pringle has kept a grinder’s mentality since he has entered the NFL, which has allowed him to capitalize on the opportunities given to him.
“I just know to never give up on yourself,” Pringle said. “Just keep working. Keep grinding. Don’t look at who is in front of you, who is behind you, or who is on side of you. You keep going day in and day out. That is my mentality. Just win.”
Andy Reid on Chiefs’ 8th Straight Win
Following the game, head coach Andy Reid explained what it meant to him and the team to beat Pittsburgh, which locked up the AFC West title for Kansas City for a division-record sixth straight season.
“We don’t take any of those experiences for granted at all,” Reid explained during his postgame press conference. “I know we get a free t-shirt and a hat, but there’s a lot of sweat that goes into this—the effort, pushing through things that you normally don’t have to push through to get to work, both mentally and physically. So, I’m proud of our guys for how they handled it and I’m proud of the coaches for how they handled it. It’s a great honor, so we’ll enjoy it here for a day or two and then we’ve got to get on to a real good Cincinnati team next week.”
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Chiefs have not only locked up the division but also remain in first place in the AFC, which means they will have a bye week at the beginning of the postseason if they remain in this spot.
In Week 17, Kansas City travels to face the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs then close out the regular season by facing the division-rival Broncos in Denver.