The Tennessee Titans entered their Week 7 showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs with plenty of injury concerns on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. Starting cornerback Kristian Fulton remains on IR and rookie first-round pick Caleb Farley tore his ACL in Monday’s win over the Buffalo Bills. Starting safety Amani Hooker popped up on Friday’s injury report after suffering a late-week groin injury. Hooker was among the inactives, and the Titans were down another starter in the secondary. Cornerback Chris Jackson, who was set to start on the outside, went through a fitness test prior to kickoff and was surprisingly among the inactives despite practicing in full on Friday. All in all, the Titans were down four of their top seven secondary defenders.
The players answered the call. If your worries were directed to the defensive side of the field, the players heard you and showed up in a major way.
The Titans reigned victorious by a final score of 27-3. It was an impressive offensive performance, but it was an especially astonishing defensive performance as the Titans held Patrick Mahomes under 250 passing yards and without a passing TD for the first time in his NFL career. The Chiefs only completed two passes that went for 20 yards or more. It’s an astounding fact and worthy of a tip-of-the-cap to the Titans defense, who were short handed while defending the likes of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
The win had the Titans’ defensive playmakers in good spirits.
“Our confidence is always high,” Kevin Byard said. “There isn’t a team in this league that we don’t believe we can beat on any given Sunday. We knew how great and explosive Kansas City is as a team. You don’t win the Super Bowl mid-season. We’re not going to get too caught up in this win either.”
The Titans defense, in a word, was dominant. The Chiefs had trouble moving the football throughout the day, starting with two punts followed by an interception and fumble.
Defensive coordinator Shane Bowen made a statement as his players executed his gameplan to perfection. The Titans took one of the top NFL offenses and made it look like a bottom-ranked unit. Mahomes was flustered from the first drive and never found his footing.
For as good as the secondary was, the front seven stole the show. Denico Autry was dominant and has been an excellent offseason addition. Harold Landry now has 7.5 sacks through seven games, and is playing like a top pass rusher. Bud Dupree played his best game as a Titan, recording a strip-sack in the first half. The Chiefs recovered, but punted on the next play. Ola Adeniyi recorded a pressure in the second half. Rashaan Evans made the best play of his career in the passing game when he recorded an interception before the ball could hit the ground following a a pass break up by David Long Jr, who was all over the field.
The Titans’ defensive success all started up front, with the D-line dominating Mahomes and his young, new-look offensive line. The Chiefs couldn’t get the running game going as Darrel Williams rushed for just 20 yards on five carries. The game quickly got out of hand, and Kansas City had to abandon the run game altogether.
The first half was especially dominant. When intermission arrived the Chiefs had held the ball for just 6:44, managed 36 passing yards and 67 total yards, had turned the ball over twice and punted twice.
The defense never relented, keeping Mahomes in check throughout the second half as well.
The Titans recorded a massive, statement win on Sunday. Largely thanks to the defense.