Chiefs collapse late, fall to Titans 22-21 in playoff opener

Chiefs collapse late, fall to Titans 22-21 in playoff opener

Chiefs collapse late, fall to Titans 22-21 in playoff opener

With a Jaguars win, the Titans will play in New England. But they didn't let it affect them. The Titans defense couldn't do anything to cover Kelce or speedy WR Tyreek Hill. Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted Mariota to snuff out a second-quarter trip to the red zone, and Tennessee managed only a field goal before halftime.

The Chiefs' offense had been rendered impotent by that point, unable to move the ball after Kelce left with a concussion in the first half. His absence changed the game. The Cowboys came back from 21-3 down in the first half to beat the 49ers 30-28 in December 1972, and the Lions came back from 27-7 in the second half to beat the 49ers in December 1957. But as has been the case for the duration of Mularkey's two-year tenure as Titans head coach, his team did not quit in a game where many would. No one could hardly believe it. Injuries to key players spelled the Chiefs' undoing that day, too, as did freaky plays - such as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck recovering a fumble by his running back and scoring a critical touchdown.

Mariota, who delivered a key block on Henry's game-clinching run in the fourth quarter, finished with 205 yards and two touchdown passes with one interception.

The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Tennessee down 21-16. The Chiefs just had a 96.5 percent chance of winning. On the drive, Mariota converted three third downs, two through the air and one on a nifty scramble to the right for 17 yards.

Alex Smith tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with three seconds remaining in the first half - Kevin Byard whiffed on a tackle at the goal line - to give the Chiefs a 21-3 lead at halftime. That includes Smith, who was benched by the San Francisco 49ers before being traded to the Chiefs in 2013. Cyprien dove to break up a short pass on 2nd and 9, and then on 4th and 9, he broke up a deep pass to WR Albert Wilson by laying a hit on him as the ball arrived.

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Mariota was getting sacked when the ball popped out again.

The final frustration came as the Titans were trying to run out the clock. On the first carry of the drive, Henry rushed around the left end for 12 yards and a first down.

A similar occurrence happened as the Titans looked to run out the clock as Marcus Peters stripped Derrick Henry and Derrick Johnson scooped up the loose ball and ran to the end zone. Luck threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns and the Chiefs lost, 45-44.

Marcus Mariota did everything he could to help the Titans advance in the playoffs, throwing a insane touchdown pass to himself, running for crucial first downs and providing the kind of spark that Tennessee needed to rally from a 21-3 halftime hole.

If not for a road win over the Houston Texans a couple of years ago, the Chiefs would still be searching for their first postseason victory of any kind since that home win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. A dynamic 22-yard touchdown throw from Marcus Mariota to Eric Decker put the Titans ahead for the first time.

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