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Titans fall to the Chargers, 17-14

Worst case scenario today.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Following Jacksonville’s dramatic win over the Cowboys, the Titans’ matchup against the Chargers became that much more important. Very quickly, the AFC South picture is much less clear than it was eight days ago, as Trevor Lawrence and Jacksonville have gotten hot at the right time.

Making matters more complicated? Ryan Tannehill left the game against the Chargers after the first drive. Tannehill got rolled up on and exited to the locker room via a cart, while Malik Willis took over.

Meanwhile, it was the Chargers taking it right down the field to jump out to a 7-0 lead. This had the potential of getting out of hand pretty quickly, but Ryan Tannehill’s heroic return gave Tennessee a shot.

Tannehill hit Henry for a big pass play to flip the field, then Henry finished off the drive in the wildcat to tie things up. Early disaster was avoided, and we had a game in Los Angeles.

A 7-7 score would hold through halftime, thanks to a great play in the endzone from Joshua Kalu, who batted away a pass that was eventually intercepted by Roger McCreary.

A sleepy third quarter didn’t offer much action, but the Titans did begin the fourth quarter in business. Tannehill found Austin Hooper, then Henry broke off a 13 yard run to put the Titans in scoring range. Tannehill took a key sack on third down, which set up a 51 yard attempt for Randy Bullock.

Bullock missed, keeping us tied at 7-7 as the fourth quarter opened.

A missed opportunity turned into an opportunity for the Chargers — and Justin Herbert didn’t miss. He found Keenan Allen for a huge gain to enter the redzone, while Austin Ekeler found the endzone two snaps later.

Very quickly, it was the Chargers taking the lead at 14-7.

And the Titans had no counter. Todd Downing’s offense was lost, and the clock was not on their side. However, the defense gave them what felt like one final chance with six minutes to play, forcing a punt.

Tannehill and Henry started at the 25, and immediately worked their way to a first down. But the drive stalled quickly after that. Derrick Henry fumbled, but the Titans recovered. Then Tannehill was sacked.

Another punt. It was getting late, and things weren’t looking good for the depleted Titans.

With three minutes left, Tennessee got the stop they had to have. Greg Maybin stopped Ekeler on a screen to give the Titans a shot on offense to tie the game.

It was Chig who delivered. A huge catch and run gave the Titans a shot going in from the 21 yard line with under a minute to play. Austin Hooper caught another to get inside of the five. Suddenly, the Titans were looking for the tie. And they found one. Ryan Tannehill scored with the sneak to take us to 14-13, and Randy Bullock tied things up at 14-14.

The Chargers had 50 seconds, though. Herbert found Mike Williams and Gerald Everett to move the ball quickly towards midfield. Then Herbert delivered the throw of the game. A 35-yard strike to Williams put the Chargers in field goal range with under 20 seconds to play.

Cameron Dicker drilled a 43 yard attempt with eight seconds left, and the Chargers would hang on to win.

The Titans fell to 7-7, just hours after the Jaguars improved to 6-8. The AFC South is now completely up for grabs, especially considering the fact that the two teams will face each other in week 18 in Jacksonville.

Tennessee has a must-win next week against Houston (Dec. 24th, 12 p.m. CT).