The first pass attempt to Travis Kelce Sunday hit him in both hands after he'd extended his route far enough to collect a first down.

He dropped the ball.

Would it be that kind of day for the Pro Bowl tight end who led the Chiefs in receptions for the second straight year?

Not at all. Things didn't remedy themselves quickly, but when they did, Kelce was a big part of one of the biggest triumphs in franchise history.

Down 24-0, the Chiefs rallied for an amazing 51-31 triumph over the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium. Never had the Chiefs overcome a bigger deficit.

Seven straight Chiefs possessions ended in touchdowns to define the rally. Patrick Mahomes' 17-yard pass to running back Damien Williams got things going. The reigning league MVP's next three touchdown passes went to Kelce, who said the team took a blow but didn't cower.

"We've got full confidence not only in the players but in the game plan," Kelce said. "You just have to deal with what's going on in the game, what's real and what's not real. What was real was we were hurting ourselves early. With that you rally the troops, lean on the leaders on this team and make plays.

"That's what we did."

Many pitched in, but Kelce's reliability around the goal line was critical to the effort. After falling behind huge, the Chiefs struck quickly with short-field opportunities.

A 58-yard kickoff return by Mecole Hardman, a stop on a fake punt and a forced fumble on a Texans kickoff return all gave the Chiefs possession in plus territory.

When the Chiefs got to the goal line, Mahomes went to his favorite target. He found Kelce from 5, 6 and 5 yards out for first-half touchdowns.

Nothing magical about the routes. Kelce either came across the field and Mahomes rolled with him for the short strike, or, in the case of the final scoring connection, Kelce set up on the goal line and gave Mahomes the option to pass or run.

Mahomes was close to crossing the line of scrimmage, but replay upheld the touchdown toss.

The three touchdown receptions were the most by Kelce in a game — playoff or regular season. His 10 receptions and 134 receiving yards were personal postseason bests. Kelce now has three 100-yard receiving efforts and five touchdowns in seven playoff games.

"We tried to play some man on him, we tried to double him, mix in some zone," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "It was just a tough night."

The credit, Kelce said, also belongs to his quarterback. That second-quarter performance by Mahomes — four touchdown passes — matched an NFL postseason record for a quarter. And Mahomes finished with five touchdown passes overall.

"Pat Mahomes man, the best quarterback in the National Football League," Kelce said.

Kelce was playing hurt. He was a limited participant in practice this past week with a knee injury. Late in the second quarter, it was announced that Kelce was out of the game with a hamstring injury. But he returned in the second half.

Standing before his locker after the game, Kelce was asked how he felt.

"I feel like I've got about a week to get ready for next week game and it will be a little bit of a battle," Kelce said. "I'm sure everyone is dealing with something at this point of the year."