By Karen Christensen // @ksc47
Titans 22 – Chiefs 21
The first half of the game belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs. They scored on a touchdown by Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who ran the ball in from the one-yard line. They scored another TD when tight end Travis Kelce caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith. Not a good start for the Tennessee Titans.
Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota was leading a good drive during the second quarter until he threw an interception to cornerback Marcus Peters; Titans head coach Mike Mularkey later stated that it was Titan wide receiver Corey Davis’ fault as Davis didn’t run his route correctly. The Titans have had this “miscommunication” and “execution” problem throughout this season. It has frustrated the coaches and the fans and has lead to much speculation about the security of the coaching positions in Tennessee.
The Chiefs were running on all cylinders, their stars Hunt, Kelce, and Peters were shining bright; Titans fans were hanging on a prayer. The Titans were finally able to score when kicker Ryan Succop kicked a field goal from 49 yards with less than two minutes left in the first half. Three points may have been a glimmer of hope for the Titans before the break, but the Chiefs scored again; the score was 21-3.
The Titans came alive in the third quarter, especially QB Mariota with a bizarre touchdown pass to himself! Mariota was running to his left, threw the ball into the end zone where the ball was batted back to Mariota by Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis. Mariota caught the batted pass, dove into the end zone, hit the pylon and got the touchdown. The Titans quarterback is playing two positions at once!
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 6, 2018
In the fourth quarter, running back Derrick Henry scored after a 35 yard run from a handoff by Mariota. Head coach Mularkey called for a two-point play, which was a failure. The score was now 21-16, and many fans on social media were again calling for the firing of Mularkey for not allowing the field goal attempt.
The Titans finally got a big break when veteran wide receiver Eric Decker caught a 22-yard pass in the fourth quarter. Decker had dropped three other passes in the game; he redeemed himself with this catch and he was met by a pile of Titans players in the end zone congratulating him for giving the team the boost they needed.
During the final six minutes of the game, Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien was able to stop a Kansas City drive and Tennessee took over. The Titans were able to run out the clock after RB Henry had another 22-yard run; it was QB Mariota that blocked for Henry. Marcus Mariota can play quarterback, linebacker, and receiver; next up we may see him as a kicker.
Name: Marcus Mariota
Position: QB, RB, WR, OL
— Will Cain (@willcain) January 7, 2018
NFL officials were not on top of this game; they drew a lot of criticism for missed plays, missed spots, a penalty called on the wrong player and a questionable forward progress call. Also, the head referee Jeff Triplette had not officiated a playoff game in years and was retiring after this game. Early on in the game, Cyprien hit Kelce and there was helmet to helmet contact. Some fans thought this should have been called an illegal hit. Kelce was out of the game due to a concussion.
In another situation at the very end of the game, Derrick Henry was hit and down; one official blew the whistle ending the play, but the Chief’s Derrick Johnson picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone. The other officials let the play go on. The play should have been ruled dead after the first official blew his whistle.
It was a heart-stopping moment for Titan fans; the television announcer even called it as a TD for the Chiefs. The play was challenged and reviewed and the decision was that Titan Derrick Henry was already down. The Titans were able to end the game with two more Derrick Henry carries, and a final score of 22-21.
Talk Titans With Karen on Twitter @ksc47