Welp, that’s it. After rushing out to a 17-7 lead to start the game, the Titans offense cooled off and the defense never could slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. Kansas City went on a 28-0 run in the middle of this game and it’s hard to recover from that.
This season was still a massive success for the Titans. They dug themselves out of a 2-4 hole and beat two of the best teams in the NFL on their way to the AFC Championship Game. We’ll have plenty of time to look back on what was one of the best seasons of Titans football in the last two decades, but for now, let’s get to winners and losers from Chiefs 35, Titans 24.
Kamalei Correa: Winner
Correa was one of very few Titans defenders that turned in a good performance in this game. He led the team with 10 tackles and had one of two sacks on Mahomes.
Rashaan Evans: Loser
Evans was playing banged up in this one. He dealt with a foot injury during the week and was in and out of the locker room throughout the game. It showed in his play when he was on the field. Evans finished with just one tackle in the game and missed a chance to take down Mahomes at the line of scrimmage on his long touchdown run.
Evans was outstanding in the Titans wins over New England and Baltimore, and this doesn’t change any of that, but it’s a performance he will likely want to forget.
Corey Davis: Winner
Davis was the Titans leading receiver with 5 catches for 65 yards in addition to drawing a big pass interference penalty on a 3rd and long. He made a few really nice plays in big spots in this game.
Tramaine Brock: Loser
Things started out good for Brock — who had been excellent for the last few games — but the wheels came off for the veteran corner as the game wore on. He got picked on in coverage and struggled in run support as well (something that has been a recurring issue with him).
The final nails in the Titans coffin were both plays given up by Brock. He fell down in coverage on the 3rd down bomb to Sammy Watkins that put the Chiefs up 35-17 and then was called for pass interference on another 3rd down deep shot later on (though that was an incredibly soft call given the game situation).
The Titans might not have made it here without Brock, but he was a major problem today.
Adoree’ Jackson: Winner
The Titans gave up 292 passing yards in this game, but the Chiefs almost never tried Jackson throughout this game. When you play a team like Kansas City and you don’t hear a corner’s name called, it’s usually because he’s playing really well.
Titans Offensive Line: Losers
This group was dominant over the back half of the year, but they struggled today. The Titans averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, the first time they’d averaged less than 5 per run since their Week 8 matchup with the Bucs. Nate Davis had his worst game in months and the Titans linemen were flagged for several costly penalties in this game.
The pass protection was mostly pretty good, but three sacks and a couple costly pressures hurt the offense at some key moments.
Adam Humphries: Winner
Humphries didn’t put up huge numbers, but he made some key conversions in this game. His work on 3rd and 4th downs was a big part of the Titans early success offensively.
Titans Pass Rush: Losers
The Titans failed to get any sort of consistent pressure on Mahomes in this game, frequently giving the MVP way too much time to sit back and survey his options. We’ve known the pass rush to be something of a weakness in this defense all season and it showed up again today. This is something the Titans must address this offseason.
I don’t know that Ryan Tannehill or Derrick Henry belong in either category. Neither had tremendous performances, but they weren’t terrible either. At the end of the day, the Titans defense giving up 4 touchdowns on 5 drives in the middle of the game was always going to make this a tough game to win.
The biggest gripe that I’ve got with the offense is the overly conservative sequence when the Titans took over up 17-14 with about 4:00 left in the first half. Two Henry runs for little to nothing set up a 3rd and 9 screen pass to Dion Lewis that was stopped short of the line to gain. A score on that drive would have been massive, but at the very least, Tennessee needed to run the clock down and keep the red hot Mahomes from getting the ball back with enough time to score. That didn’t happen, Mahomes made them pay, and the Titans would never re-gain the lead.
That sequence was brutal, but it still feels wrong to blame this offense for a game that was lost 35-24. Teams that allowed at least 35 points were 5-57 in the NFL this year.
Ultimately, this is a season I’ll remember fondly despite the sad ending. Only one team gets a happy ending to their season in the NFL. Hopefully it’s not the Chiefs.