Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson celebrates would-be touchdown that officials overturned during the team's 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Wild Card playoff game January 6, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Titans will need their defense to step up in the face of this Chiefs defense.
Without Kelce to keep the chains moving and Jones to halt Derrick Henry, the Titans' human battering ram, the Chiefs crumbled from 21-3 to 21-22, capped by Mariota's deflected pass that he caught himself and ran in for a touchdown.
Chiefs: making 20th overall playoff appearance (16th since the merger), 9-17 in postseason play (4-15 since the merger).
Ryan Succop hit a 49-yard field goal to cut the Chiefs' lead to 14-3 with 1:55 remaining in the first half.
Dick LeBeau's defense deserves a lot of credit for shutting down the Chiefs after a rough first half in which quarterback Alex Smith threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
Any of those plays could have won the game for the Chiefs, had they turned out differently. The second half saw Tennessee disrupt and clamp down on the Chiefs weapons, not allowing a drive over 5 plays or 21 yards until the final one. Hunt didn't carry the ball in the second quarter and he carried just five times in the second half. But the Titans switched seamlessly to Henry, who gained 156 yards on 23 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown run. He is one of just six quarterbacks in National Football League history to have at least 250 pass attempts in the playoffs and a passer rating over 95. It was the first post-season win for the franchise in 14 years, and it left Mularkey feeling a bit vindicated when he addressed a handful of reporters deep inside Arrowhead Stadium. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has 39 TD passes without interception in red zone.
Derrick Henry said "I felt like I played soft." after last weeks win against the Jaguars. The 1 that was most impressive to me was the 1 block Mariota threw on Chiefs linebacker Frank Zombo. You also can't overlook how valuable Kelce is in the running back. But win or lose, Henry can clearly make the case for the charade to end and that he should be Tennessee's lead back next season. Should the Titans focus specifically on taking one of these pro bowlers out of the game or containing all three of them as much as possible? An opening night win at New England showed off all the speed and skill they had in key offensive positions. If Buffalo upsets Jacksonville then the Titans will play at Pittsburgh.