OWINGS MILLS — Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton has emerged as one of the league’s top playmakers.
Hamilton will be tasked with one of the toughest assignments of his young career in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs: containing nine-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce.
“He is a great player in our league,” Hamilton said. “He has been a great player for as long as I can remember, as long as I have been watching him at this level. He has earned every ounce of respect that he has received until this point, and it will be a challenge.”
Kelce, 6 feet 5, 250 pounds, is one of the league’s top pass-catching tight ends and became the Chiefs’ all-time leading receiver this season. He is also a physical player who is a key blocker for the Chiefs’ running game.
This season, Kelce led the Chiefs with 93 receptions for 984 yards with five touchdowns. He has recorded at least one reception in 158 consecutive games played from Week 1 of the 2014 season through the end of the 2023 season.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Kelce and quarterback Patrick Mahomes have a great chemistry.
“It’s hard to explain why and how these guys connect like that, but they do,” Reid said. “They both have a great feel for the game and then they have a great feel for what the other one sees and is going to do in a very short time span.”
Hamilton, 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, appears to have the talent and instincts to match up with Kelce.
In just his second year in the NFL, Hamilton earned All-Pro honors after setting the Ravens’ single-season record for defensive backs with 10 tackles for a loss. He also had 13 passes defensed, which was tied with Detroit’s Brian Branch for the most by a safety this season.
Hamilton had three sacks in the first half against the Colts on September 25th, which tied an NFL record by a defensive back.
Hamilton said one of the keys to containing Kelce will be to keep Mahomes under pressure. The Ravens are going to need tight coverage on all of Kansas City’s receivers because Mahomes does such a good job extending plays.
The Ravens are going to need to be at the top of their game on defense.
“I am part of the plan to hopefully take [Kelce] away, but it is a team effort at the same time,” Hamilton said. “We have to have guys up front rushing the quarterback, make it unclear on Mahomes, and then in the back end, it isn’t going to be man-to-man [coverage] the whole game. We have to have guys in the right spots, guys attached to [their assignments].”