No Ryan Tannehill heading into Arrowhead to face the Kansas City Chiefs? Yikes. A two-touchdown spread was understandable, and it certainly looked accurate early on.
The Chiefs went to work quickly, busting out to a 9-0 lead with a Mecole Hardman touchdown and a field goal. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes looked like they were going to make quick work of the Titans in the first couple of drives, quickly working down the field a couple of times to put the pressure on Malik Willis and the Titans.
Tennessee has won ugly recently, relying on Derrick Henry and Willis working on the ground. The added Willis wrinkle on the ground gave offensive coordinator Todd Downing some added ammo, and it allowed the Titans to come up with a response.
Henry crashed into the endzone for his first touchdown of the night, then shortly after smashed in for another.
The Titans answered Kansas City’s 9-0 start with 14 unanswered points, roaring back when thing appeared to be going south. They would carry that lead to halftime, with the defense adjusting and holding the upper hand on Mahomes and company.
That defense made a splash play to open the third quarter — it was the rookie Roger McCreary.
The Titans added three points after that. Kansas City went on to miss a field goal on the following drive.
So, in a game that quite literally nobody gave them a chance to win, the Titans held a 17-9 lead in the closing minutes of the third quarter.
The Tennessee defense continued its dominance, coming up with another stop to close the third quarter. Mario Edwards Jr. got home for a sack, and a drop forced yet another punt. Shane Bowen’s defense was completely keyed in on Mahomes, and Andy Reid didn’t have any answers — and he was quickly running out of time.
Willis and the offense had a chance to put this one away to open the fourth, but couldn’t quite get there. A screen play on third down was blown up, forcing Ryan Stonehouse on once again.
Still a one score game, Mahomes got yet another chance. You’re playing with fire if you blow chances to put this team away, and Mahomes finally got rolling once again. A brilliant scramble put the Chiefs in Tennessee territory, and a couple more short throws put them in scoring range.
First down after first down, Kansas City was threatening, and it was Mahomes that finished off the drive. Another scramble ended up going for six, making it a 17-15 game. Kansas City converted the two-point play (after a couple questionable penalties) to tie it up with under three minutes to play.
That two-point sequence was... something. Holding was the call on Joshua Kalu, even though Travis Kelce managed to rip off Kalu’s helmet.
The pressure shifted to Malik Willis, and Downing’s unit came up empty. A failed Henry run, a failed bootleg and a sack — Stonehouse came on to punt.
Considering who was on the other side, this one felt like it was over with under two minutes to play. Edwards-Helaire converted a huge 4th and 1, setting up Mahomes for a shot at the win with under a minute to play.
The Tennessee defense, just as it had all night long, came up huge. They forced three straight incompletions, denying Mahomes and the Chiefs the win at the end of regulation.
To overtime we went, and the Chiefs got the ball first. Mahomes quickly worked the ball to Travis Kelce, then hit a big play to Noah Gray over the middle to the Tennessee 22. Reid opted to go for it on 4th and 1 instead of kicking a field goal, looking for the win. Mahomes converted, keeping that possibility alive — now inside of the ten.
One more time, the defense found a stop. However, Harrison Butker booted through a field goal to make it 20-17. The Titans could tie with a field goal, or win with a touchdown. Either way, they had four minutes on the clock to figure it out.
First down — Henry stuffed. Second down? Willis sacked. Third down? Willis sacked. Fourth down? Nothing doing — Willis was nearly pick-sixed.
That would do it. Final score: Chiefs 20, Titans 17.
It’s actually amazing that the Titans were in this game. The defense did all they could, and then some, but the offense just couldn’t close this one out when they had the chance in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee, now 5-3, will host Denver next Sunday at noon.