Titans at Chiefs: Live Updates and Analysis

David Boclair

The Tennessee Titans are in Kansas City for the AFC Championship.

The temperature at kickoff will be below 20 degrees and with the wind chill it will feel like it’s just a couple degrees above 0.

“When it's cold and you get hit, it doesn't feel good,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “And so, we're going to focus on playing and understanding whatever the conditions are. That if the field is hard, we’ll have the right kind of cleats. We’ll try to do everything if it rains, if it snows. We'll have to not let those things affect us.”

As has been the case throughout the offseason, the Titans are sizable underdogs. The Chiefs are favored by a touchdown.

NEED TO KNOW

Wide receiver Adam Humphries is not among the Titans’ inactives and will make his NFL playoff debut in this contest.

With this game, the teams will have met at every level of the postseason. They played for a championship (the AFL championship) in 1962, and the Chiefs won 20-17. In 2017, they met in the wild card round and Tennessee advanced with a 22-21 triumph. In 1993, Kansas City won a divisional round matchup 28-20.

Running back Derrick Henry has more rushing yards in the postseason (377) than any team. Houston is closest with 235 rushing yards – last week against Kansas City.

Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce is the only AFC player with multiple touchdown receptions this postseason. He has three, all in the second quarter last week against the Texans.

The Titans have been to the Super Bowl once in their history. They lost 23-17 to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

The Chiefs have been to the Super Bowl twice but have not been there for 50 years. They lost Super Bowl I 35-10 to the Green Bay Packers and won Super Bowl IV 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings.

We will keep you posted on all the key developments and significant action throughout the contest.

And here we go.

FIRST QUARTER

Kansas City won the coin toss and deferred its option to the second half. Titans will start with the ball.

The first play is a handoff to Derrick Henry (shocking!) for a four-yard gain.

(14:18) An A.J. Brown sighting. Ryan Tannehill’s first pass is complete to the rookie, who turns it into a 37-yard gain to the Kansas City 29. Brown had two catches for 13 yards in the previous two games.

(11:29) Tennessee 3, Kansas City 0. Greg Joseph finally kicks a field goal for the Titans – it was good from 30 yards. Scoring drive: 8 plays, 58 yards, 3:31.

Tennessee’s streak of 12 straight red zone possessions ends. Ryan Tannehill was pressured and had to throw it away on third-and-6 from the Kansas City 12. A miscommunication with receiver Tajaé Sharpe resulted in an incompletion on second down.

(9:59) Chiefs go three-and-out on their first possession. Kamalei Correa’s sack on second-down forced them into third-and-1. Correa had four sacks in the final five weeks of the regular season and now has two in the postseason. Before that, he had four and a half in 49 career games.

(8:32) After two Henry runs for 16 yards, Tannehill is nearly intercepted on a throw to Corey Davis. Officials initially ruled it a turnover, but the call is reversed following a replay review. It will be Titans’ ball, third-and-5 at the Kansas City 42. 

(7:13) Adam Humphries makes his first catch – and it’s for three yards on fourth-and-2 from the Kansas City 29.

(5:52) Tennessee 10, Kansas City 0. Derrick Henry scores on a 4-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation. Jonnu Smith’s 22-yard reception preceded the touchdown. Titans benefited from the video reversal and two offsides penalties against the Chiefs on that possession. Scoring drive: 9 plays, 58 yards, 4:07.

Derrick Henry with 32 yards on eight carries so far.

(1:09) The Chiefs are driving – they have a first down at the Tennessee 10 – and linebacker Rashaan Evans, Tennessee’s leading tackler, is injured. Evans went straight to the locker room.

(0:46) Tennessee 10, Kansas City 7. The Chiefs answer with a long drive capped by Tyreek Hill’s 8-yard touchdown catch on a jet sweep action. Scoring drive: 10 plays, 74 yards, 5:06.

That is the first first-quarter touchdown allowed by Tennessee’s defense this postseason.

(0:02) The Titans were trying to draw the Chiefs offside as the time ran out on the first quarter. Right tackle Jack Conklin jumped instead.

(0:00) End of the first quarter. Titans lead 10-0. They have 115 total yards to Kansas City’s 69, seven first downs to Kansas City’s six and 8:24 of possession time. Ryan Tannehill is 5-9 for 83 yards with completions to five receivers. Derrick Henry has eight rushes for 32 yards.

Tennessee has led at the end of the first quarter in all three playoff games. In their previous seven playoff appearances (15 games), the Titans led after the first quarter just four times.

SECOND QUARTER

Rashaan Evans is questionable to return with a foot injury.

(6:39) Tennessee 17, Kansas City 7. The Titans take advantage of a third-down penalty on Kansas City’s defense (it would have been fourth-and-22 from the K.C. 25) and push their advantage back to 10 points. The five plays after the penalty included a 5-yard Marcus Mariota run and tackle Dennis Kelly’s 1-yard touchdown catch. Scoring drive: 15 plays, 75 yards, 9:07.

Dennis Kelly is the eighth different Tennessee player to score a touchdown this postseason.

(6:32) Rashaan Evans is back in with the Titans defense. On Kansas City’s second play, he is called for illegal contact, which gives the Chiefs a first down.

(4:03) Tennessee 17, Kansas City 14. The Chiefs respond quickly this time. Tyreek Hill with a 20-yard touchdown reception this time. Scoring drive: 5 plays, 63 yards, 2:36.

The Titans have yet to punt. The Chiefs have done it once.

(2:00) Two-minute warning. The Titans will have to punt after a three-and-out. That will give Kansas City, which has two timeouts remaining, a chance to score before halftime and then get the ball to start the second half. Big moment for Tennessee’s defense here.

(0:23) Kansas City 21, Tennessee 17. The defense allows quarterback Patrick Mahomes to get free, to elude tacklers and fight through several others for a 27-yard touchdown run. Mahomes was 6-for-8 passing for 59 yards on the possession. Scoring drive: 9 plays, 86 yards, 1:40.

(0:00) For the first time this postseason, the Titans are behind at halftime. Kansas City outgained Tennessee 213-186. Each team has 14 first downs. Derrick Henry had eight carries in each quarter (16 total) and has rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown.

THIRD QUARTER

(11:08) Kansas City moves 37 yards in 10 plays, but eventually has to punt. Tennessee’s defense overcomes a video review on a third-and-3 from the K.C. 29 determined that wide receiver Sammy Watkins was inbounds (officials originally ruled him out) and allowed the drive to continue. 

(6:58) On third-and-1 from the Tennessee 41, Derrrick Henry was stopped for no gain, but the Chiefs accepted a holding penalty on Dennis Kelly. Ryan Tannehill scrambled seven yards on the next snap, and the Titans punted. Kansas City takes over at its own 27.

(0:00) End of the third quarter. Neither team scored, but Kansas City had the ball for 10:57 of the 15 minutes. The fourth will start with the Chiefs at the Tennessee 3, first-and-goal.

FOURTH QUARTER

(14:50) Kansas City 28, Tennessee 17. Damien Williams caps the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run on second down. Patrick Mahomes did a lot of damage with his legs on that series and now has almost as many rushing yards (56) as Derrick Henry (69). Scoring drive: 13 plays, 73 yards, 7:08.

(12:48) Ryan Tannehill sacked for the first time. Loss of eight yards. It was third-and-7. Punt.

(7:33) Kansas City 35, Tennessee 17. On third-and-6 from the K.C. 40, Tremaine Brock falls down in coverage, Sammy Watkins gets behind the defense and hauls in a pass for a 60-yard touchdown catch. Brock was called for holding on the play (it was declined). Chiefs were burning clock prior to that play. Scoring drive: 7 plays, 88 yards, 4:21.

Kansas City has scored the last 28 points.

(6:07) Down 18 and, the Titans run a fake punt on fourth-and-8 from their own 22. Brett Kern completes a pass to Amani Hooker for 28 yards and the drive continues from midfield.

(4:18) Kansas City 35, Tennessee 24. There’s still hope. Anthony Firkser with a 22-yard touchdown catch four plays after the fake punt. Scoring drive: 8 plays, 80 yards, 3:15.

(4:12) Titans opt not to onside kick. Kansas City will start from its own 19.

(3:59) On third-and-10, the Chiefs elect to throw deep. The pass to Mecole Hardman is incomplete, but Tremaine Brock is called for pass interference. Kansas City gets 41 yards and a fresh set of downs.

(2:15) Finally, the defense forces a punt. Titans still have one timeout.

(2:08) The Titans go all-out for a punt block but don’t get it. The result is a touchback. They need two scores.

(2:00) A 6-yard scramble by Ryan Tannehill and a Kansas City penalty for hands-to-the-face combine for 11 yards to get the drive started and brings on the two-minute warning.

Derrick Henry has just three carries for seven yards in the second half. Quite a difference from the previous two weeks, when Tennessee was protecting leads.

(1:20) On fourth-and-6 from the Tennessee 35, Ryan Tannehill is sacked.

That will do it. All that remains is for the Chiefs to run out the clock.

IN CONCLUSION

It was no secret that the Titans’ best chance was to get a lead, run the ball and the clock, and keep Patrick Mahomes on the sideline. They got a lead but could not hold it long enough, which meant they could not let Derrick Henry beat on the defense as he had so often in recent weeks. Ultimately, Mahomes and the Kansas City offense was too good.

This will be remembered as one of the more enjoyable playoff runs of the Titans era (1999-present) even though it ended a little earlier than most hoped.

 

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