Who has showcased the safest hands in the NFL postseason? We take a look at the players with the most receptions in playoff history.

Wide receivers seem to rack up bigger and bigger numbers with each NFL regular season, but quarterbacks love to rely on their safety valves during the postseason.

Running backs and tight ends are often in the mix of the players who have the most receptions in a playoff game. In fact, they combine for 10 of the 13 playoff performances of 13 or more catches, dating back to San Diego Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow’s breathtaking effort against the Miami Dolphins in the 1981 AFC playoffs.

In contrast, the passes flow more in the regular season, with 15 games of a player having more receptions than the postseason high of 15, led by Brandon Marshall with 21 in 2009.

Who’s made the most catches on the postseason stage? We dive into the record books to explore which players have caught the most receptions in an NFL playoff game.

Two Running Backs Share Playoff Receptions Record

Darren Sproles and James White, a pair of running backs, hold the NFL record for the most receptions in a playoff game with 15 each.

Sproles, only 5-foot-6, was the first to set the mark, catching 15 passes for 118 yards in the New Orleans Saints’ 36-32 loss at the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC divisional round playoff game on Jan. 14, 2012. He caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees, and all but three of his yards came after the catch. He also hauled in a two-point conversion, although it didn’t count toward his overall catches.

White matched Sproles with 15 catches on just 17 targets when the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 41-28 in the AFC divisional round on Jan. 13, 2019. Despite one of his receptions from Tom Brady going for 25 yards, he finished with just 97 overall, or 6.5 yards per catch.


Travis Kelce Setting Himself Apart

White also had a 14-catch playoff game, setting the Super Bowl record when the Patriots capped the 2017 season with the final game’s largest comeback victory, 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. He scored three touchdowns after halftime, the first on a 5-yard reception.  

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce later matched White for the third-most playoff receptions, catching 14 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC divisional round of the 2022 playoffs.

Not surprisingly, the 6-5 Kelce’s big hands are all over the Chiefs’ remarkable playoff success across the 2010s and 2020s decades. Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target – who has the most receptions in playoff history – includes a 13-catch performance among his record six postseason games with 10 or more receptions – twice as many as the next-best totals of Julian Edelman, Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and Hines Ward.

In addition, Kelce’s 13 playoff games with 5+ receptions share the high with Edelman.


NFL Top 10 Reception Leaders in Playoff Games

After Sproles, White and Kelce is a larger group of players with 13 receptions each, comprising the leaderboard of NFL players with the most receptions in a playoff game:

  • T1. Darren Sproles (New Orleans Saints RB): 15 receptions, 118 yards, TD (Jan. 14, 2012 vs. San Francisco)
  • T1. James White (New England Patriots RB): 15 receptions, 97 yards (Jan. 13, 2019 vs. Los Angeles Chargers)
  • T3. James White (New England Patriots RB): 14 receptions, 110 yards, TD (Feb. 5, 2017 vs. Atlanta)
  • T3. Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs TE): 14 receptions, 98 yards, 2 TDs (Jan. 21, 2023 vs. Jacksonville)
  • T5. Kellen Winslow (San Diego Chargers TE): 13 receptions, 166 yards, TD (Jan. 2, 1982 vs. Miami)
  • T5. Thurman Thomas (Buffalo Bills RB): 13 receptions, 150 yards, 2 TDs (Jan. 6, 1990 vs. Cleveland)
  • T5. Shannon Sharpe (Denver Broncos TE): 13 receptions, 156 yards, TD (Jan. 9, 1994 vs. Los Angeles Raiders)
  • T5. Chad Morton (New Orleans Saints RB): 13 receptions, 106 yards (Jan. 6, 2001 vs. Minnesota)
  • T5. *T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts WR): 13 receptions, 224 yards, 2 TDs (Jan. 4, 2014 vs. Kansas City)
  • T5. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos WR): 13 receptions, 118 yards, TD (Feb. 2, 2014 vs. Seattle)
  • T5. JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers WR): 13 receptions, 157 yards, TD (Jan. 10, 2021 vs. Cleveland)
  • T5. Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs TE): 13 receptions, 118 yards, 2 TDs (Jan. 24, 2021 vs. Buffalo)

*Hilton’s big performance marked the third-most playoff receiving yards, and he produced 11 first downs, the playoff receiving high since the statistic became available in 1994.  

Stats Perform Data Insights Editor Michael Donovan contributed research to this story.

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