It’s the eternal question: great play or defensive breakdown. Gotta say, there were elements of both here.
For most of the first half, the Titans looked right in this but the Chiefs, as they tend to operate, are definitely back in control. How their first drive of the third quarter goes might tell us a lot about whether this continue to be a close game or if this is set up for a blowout.
End of the first half
Titans 17-21 Chiefs, end of the first half
Tannehill will just take a knee to end the first half. The Chiefs are ahead and they will have the ball to start the second half.
Titans 17-21 Chiefs, :11, 2nd quarter
Mahomes throws it incomplete on the next down.
On his next play, it looks like he’s trying to find a receiver but can’t quite find a spare second to stop and throw. It looks like he’s doomed but he finds an exit somehow, like an escape artist working on the fly after his Plans A and B have all failed. He not only runs for the first down, which would be astounding enough on its own, but the end zone itself.
That’s a touchdown! The extra point is good! That was ridiculous!
Titans 17-14 Chiefs, :54, 2nd quarter
The Chiefs are at the Titans 45, where Mahomes scrambles to pick up 7 yards. Mahomes’s next throw goes incomplete. On 3rd and 3, he finds Watkins and they’re at the 27 yard line.
Titans 17-14 Chiefs, 1:09, 2nd quarter
Mahomes finds Williams again, this one’s a gain for 8 yards. That means it’s 2nd and 2, He gets the pass to Hill who weaves back and forth for what ends up being a loss of about three yards. 3rd & 4 and a good chance here for the Titans defense.
Except not, Mahomes finds Kelce for a first down instead.
Titans 17-14 Chiefs, 1:42, 2nd quarter
Oh hey we’re getting a punt here. I almost forgot those were a thing. Jordan Lucas gets the ball at the 23 but there’s a holding penalty on the play that will push them back to the 14. Mahomes doesn’t mind too much, he connects with Williams for 17 yards.
Titans 17-14 Chiefs, 2:00, 2nd quarter
Raymond gets 20 yards on the kickoff. Henry gets the ball and Henry actually gets stuffed for a mere one yard gain. Credit Chris Jones on defense for that. The next time around, it’s no gain. It’s 3rd & 9 and we might not actually see scoring this drive.
Tannehill finds Dion Lewis, who doesn’t make it to the first down. That’s Tennessee’s first three-and-out. Kansas City will get the ball back at the two minute warning plus they will get the ball at the start of the third quarter.
Titans 17-14 Chiefs, 4:03, 2nd quarter
Mahomes throws it away on 1st down. 2nd and 10, Mahomes finds Hill who waltzes into the endzone. How’s THAT for a quick answer. The extra point is good and, you know what, this is looking like it’s going to be fun.
Titans 17-7 Chiefs, 5:03, 2nd quarter
On the next play, there’s illegal contact called on the Titans defense for an automatic first down. They’ll be on their own 42. Mahomes finds Demarcus Robinson who gives them 24 yards. Mahomes then finds Watkins for 13 yard gain and this is what Kansas City’s offense does: eats up yards very quickly. They’re now at the Titans 20.
Titans 17-7 Chiefs, 6:32, 2nd quarter
Hardman goes off on a 35 yard run right up to the Chiefs 37, where they will start their next drive. Williams gets the ball and picks up a mere yard.
I normally try to avoid writing run-on sentences but it was hard not to on that particular sequence for the Titans. It was really a series of interconnected “and then” plays. Just a seamless flow of play calls. Rather impressive, taking over nine minutes of play time.
Titans 17-7 Chiefs, 6:39, 2nd quarter
Henry picks up four yards and then they bring in Marcus Mariota for a play here, he picks up five yards to get the Chiefs 2. On 3rd & 1, Tannehill is back in the game and Henry never left. He gets to the Kansas City 2 and it’s 2nd and goal. With all the attention on Henry, Tannehill finds Dennis Kelly instead for the touch down and the Chiefs are up 10 after the extra point is good.
Titans 10-7 Chiefs, 9:05, 2nd quarter
So, now that’s 1st and 20 and ouch Tyrann Matthieu hits Davis for a two yard loss. That’s 2nd and 22 and this drive is going backwards. Tannehill’s next pass is incomplete. 3rd & 22, there’s a completion short of first down BUT there’s a flag. Let’s see what this is
Oh man, pass interference on the offense. Automatic first down and the Titans drive stays alive.
Titans 10-7 Chiefs, 10:39, 2nd quarter
Henry picks up fie yards. Tannehill finds Brown again to get them the first down at the Chiefs 13. They look to be in control, but there’s a flag on the next play. That’s holding on the offense and that’s a 10 yard penalty.
Titans 10-7 Chiefs, 12:30, 2nd quarter
Tannehill goes deep but just a bit too deep. It’s an incomplete pass. He gives it to henry who gets 3 yards. It’s 3rd & 7… and there’s a neutral zone infraction on Kansas City. Yet another avoidable Kansas City penalty and it makes it 3rd & 2 and Tannehill finds Humphries for a first down.
Titans 10-7 Chiefs, 13:46, 2nd quarter
The five yard penalty doesn’t hurt them, as Tannehill finds Corey Davis for an 18 yard gain and then gets it to Henry who barrels through for a 13 yard gain and just like that, the Titans are right at the Kansas City 40.
Titans 10-7 Chiefs, end of the first quarter
The Chiefs kick off and it’s a touchback. The Titans start at their own 25 as a result, Tannehill finds MyCole Pruitt for a nine yard gain. It’s 2nd & 1 and, right before the first quarter is set to come to an end, the Titans get a false start penalty for 5 yards. Not… not a pristine way to end the first fifteen minutes here.
Titans 10-7 Chiefs, 1:46, first quarter
Mahomes makes a spectacular throw to Kelce almost in the end zone, but it’s out of bounds. There is a call on the Titans’ defense. That’s a five yard penalty and an automatic first down. On his next pass, Mahomes gets it to Hill and he gets it in for the first Kansas City touchdown.
Now that’s how you respond. The extra point is good.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 1:35, first quarter
Hardman picks up 8 yards. And they’re at the 16 now. On 2nd and 2, Williams gets to the 13 for another first down. This is more like the Chiefs we’ve seen. Tennessee’s Rashaan Evans is injured on the play.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 2:54, first quarter
The Chiefs are keeping the offense on the field. Probably the right move given the situation and it absolutely works out as Mahomes finds Kelce for a first down to put them on the Titans 24.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 2:58, first quarter
Mahomes just throws the ball away on first down. His next pas s is to Sammy Watkins, who can’t finagle it. It’s 3rd and 10 here, Mahomes scrambles and finds Travis Kelce, it’s 4th and 2 on the Titans 28. The Chiefs take a timeout to decide what they’re doing here.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 4:28, first quarter
And THERE is Mahomes, who throws a deep pass to Tyreek Hill who just barely gets the catch, that’s a 26 yard game and in an instant they’re on the Tennessee 36.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 5:09, first quarter
Williams picks up three yards for Kansas City’s first 1st down of the day.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 5:46, first quarter
The good news for Kansas City is that they have a love of time and they know they can put up pinball numbers. Hardman is here to return the kick and he gets about 19 yards to get them to their own 26. Mahomes finds Damien Williams for a nine yard gain on first down.
Titans 10-0 Chiefs, 5:52, first quarter
Tannehill finds Jonnu Smith for a 22 yard gain, and on the next play, they hand it to Henry and he drives into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
And the extra kick is good. The Titans are up 10 early and it’s looking like the Chiefs will once again look to dig themselves out of an early hole.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 7:13, first quarter
Henry can only squeak in about a yard on second down. It’s 3rd and 2and a big task here from Kansas City’s defense. And they do a decent job, Tannehill’s pass gets blocked by Terrell Suggs. Because of their kicking situation, partly at least, the Titans decide to go for it on 4th and 2. And they get it! Adam Humphries with a three-yard catch to get them to the Kansas City 26.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 8:09, first quarter
And now the Titans get the Chiefs to commit encroachment and that’s an extra five yards for the Titans, who are in a 1st & 5 situation. They give it to Henry who picks up about two yards on the carry.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 8:35, first quarter
The Titans draw the Chiefs offsides for a five-yard penalty which gives them an automatic first down without having to call an actual play. Pretty sneaky sis.
That will just be an incomplete pass. It’s now 3rd & 5 for the Titans.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 8:40, first quarter
They decide to go with Henry again, because why not, and he gets them half-way to another first down picking up 5 yards to get to the 42 yard line but Tannehill’s next pass is intercepted by Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland.
Or is it? The play is under review to see if hit the ground and is therefore an incomplete pass.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 9:29, first quarter
Henry with his first big run on the day, a gain of eleven for an easy first down. It’s like watching a knife cutting through butter.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 10:09, first quarter
And the Titans will start at their own 42 after a Kalif Raymond run for about nine yards. That’s pretty decent field percentage.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 10:14, first quarter
And Mahomes is sacked by Kamalel Correa for a loss and his next pass ends up incomplete. That’s a good defensive stand for Tennessee.
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 11:29, first quarter
Mecole Harman takes the kickoff to the Kansas City 21, where the Chiefs will start their drive. Mahomes scrambles under pressure and picks up two yards.
Field goal (Titans)
Titans 3-0 Chiefs, 11:33, first quarter
Tannehill throws three straight incompletions and the Titans bring out the field goal unit. Greg Joseph, who has barely been used, hits a 30-yarder to put Tennessee on the board, but that could have gone worse for the Chiefs.
Titans 0-0 Chiefs, 12:25, first quarter
Henry gets another yard on his next carry. Tannehill finds Corey Davis for a first down and then hands off for Henry who picks up four more yards to get them to Kansas City’s 12 yard line.
Titans 0-0 Chiefs, 14:18, first quarter
Derrick Henry gets fours yards on his first carry. On 2nd & 6, Tannehill passes to A.J. Brown who goes off for 37 yards. The Titans are right there on the Chiefs’ 29.
Titans 0-0 Chiefs, 15:00, first quarter
And we’re off, the Titans will start around their own 35 after bringing in the opening kick.
Kansas City wins the toss and they have decided to defer. The Titans will start the game on offense, while the Chiefs will get the ball coming out of halftime.
It’s performer by retired Navy officer. Generald Wilson. He has a nice, resonant voice and doesn’t try to do too much with it in the beginning untl the very end with an extended “theeeere.” 8/10.
The Chiefs are being introduce on the field, so we’re getting closer to actual game time here.
Am I… am I the only one getting nonstop ads for Mike Bloomberg? I am the exact opposite of a stick-to-sports guy, but I am not sure if I need to think about the 2020 primaries any more than I already have to.
The NFL Today guys are giving their predictions now. I always wonder if they talk early beforehand to make sure that they don’t all give the same picks. It’s 3-1 for Kansas City among the announcers, which sounds about right: the Chiefs should be favorites but not writing off the Titans completely.
Today’s big celebrity guest? That would apparently be Paul Rudd.
Will he be doing the war chant? Because, uh, that sounds like it will backfire.
NFC Championship Game
The winner of this game will go on to face the winner of the NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. This feels like it will be a closer game, if we could be guaranteed to see the Aaron Rodgers of a few seasons ago I would have no hesitations about chosing the Packers but I think the 49ers, who will be playing at home, have the edge here.
Man, it’s just hard to pick the Titans here. The Chiefs are clearly the better team on paper and it looks like a complete mismatch. However, we could have said that before their games against New England and Baltimore.
Still, my gut is telling me that there won’t be much drama here after the second half, if the Chiefs find a rhythm here I don’t see the Titans being able to fight back.
I hope I’m wrong, it’s way more entertaining to covers these games when there’s lots of drama, but I’m going with Chiefs 41-17 Titans. Have your own predictions? Feel free to send them our way, either via email (to email@example.com) or on Twitter (to @HunterFelt).
Okay, here’s one potential area of concern for the Chiefs: Head coach Andy Reid’s team has gone 1-8 lifetime against the Titans. On top of that, his record in championship games? 1-5. The Chiefs are going to want to have a decent lead built up by the end of the fourth quarter because Reid is notoriously bad at clock management in key games to the point where it’s become something cliché. If the Titans pull off the upset today, there’s absolutely going to be some questions on Reid despite his inarguable NFL success.
Email from Ezra Finkelstein:
This hasn’t got the attention it merits, but Tenessee Titans’ kicking situation is by far the worst in the teams that made the playoffs. They made 1 out of 15 last attempted Field Goal attempt, began the year with Codey Parkey, he of double doink noiterity and wil be in big trouble if a kick is the option late on the game.
Perhaps something to watch for. One wonders if this will effect their decision-making, Field goal range might mean something different for them.
Welcome all to the AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the… wait, hold up, the Tennessee Titans? While it was a relatively safe bet that the Chiefs would make a deep playoff push, the Titans were not really expected to make it this far. Especially not whey had to knock off both the reigning Super Bowls champions in the New England Patriots and then the almost certain league MVP in the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. On the road, no less. An impressive feat from a Titans team didn’t even win their own division, they placed second in the AFC South behind the now-eliminated Houston Texans, yet here they are just a win away from an improbable Super Bowl appearance.
This will Kansas City’s biggest challenge yet, however. Thanks to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs’ offense looks nearly unstoppable. They fell behind to a 24-0 hole against the Texans during the AFC Divisional Round, only to bounce-back to win 51-31, rattling off 41 unanswered points during one stretch of the game. While he was overshadowed by a regular season injury, not to mention Jackson’s rise and a stellar year from the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Mahomes continues to be one of the most dangerous threats in the league and will have a bigger arsenal of weapons than the Jackson of the Patriots’ Tom Brady had.
The Titans, however, have a Hulk or at least the closest thing to one in running back Derrick Henry. Henry has been so dominant that he’s practically rewritten the rules of being a RB, rushing for at least 180 yards in his three last games. Henry has been so good that quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who replaced a struggling Marcus Mariota during the regular season, hasn’t thrown for more than 100 yards in either playoff game. With Henry on this side, he has been able to help his team win while working primarily as a game manager.
He might not get that luxury in this AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs are going to put up numbers against the Titans, so they will have to prove that they can keep up with the Chiefs offensively. It’s a tall task, but after the previous two games, it’s foolish to completely write off their chances. In the meantime, you can send us your thoughts on today’s NFL action either via email (to firstname.lastname@example.org) or via tweet (to @HunterFelt). It’s the AFC Championship Game between the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium. Kickoff is scheduled at 3:05pm EST, but I’ll be back well before then.
Hunter will be here shortly, in the meantime, here’s our preview of today’s game:
What the Titans need to do to win: Ummm, avoid blowing a 24-0 lead? The Titans should bear in mind that, despite Patrick Mahomes’ heroic performance during last Sunday’s destruction of the Houston Texans, Ryan Tannehill and co are more than capable of beating the Chiefs. In fact, they did so in November, and that was with Mahomes playing at the height of his considerable powers. Back then Tennessee won the day by doing the simple things well: Tannehill was interception-free, special teams chipped in with a blocked field goal in the 35-32 victory and Brett Kern pinned the Chiefs back in their own territory with a 51.0-yard punting average. And then of course there was Derrick Henry, who ran for 188 yards, with the Titans outrushing the Chiefs by 225 yards to 97. Side note: Andy Reid is 1-8 all time against the Titans.
What the Chiefs need to do to win: In short, if Mahomes plays well they’ll probably win. Having said that, the Titans are not a great match-up for the Chiefs: Henry has been brilliant this postseason, Tannehill is a threat with his legs too and the Chiefs had the seventh-worst rushing defense in the league during the regular season. (Having said that, they were good at stopping the Texans on the ground last week.) But even if the Titans do maul them on the ground, Mahomes has the ability, and the weapons, to outscore pretty much any team in the league.
You can read the full article below: