KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Marcus Mariota did every thing he may to assist the Titans advance in the playoffs, throwing a loopy landing move to himself , operating for essential first downs and offering the type of spark that Tennessee wanted to rally from a 21-Three halftime gap.
Heck, he even threw a vital block on the run that clinched the sport.
It all added as much as a heart-stopping 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, the primary postseason win for the Titans in 14 years and one that can present some aid — for the week, at the very least — for embattled coach Mike Mularkey and his outstanding bunch of underdogs.
“Special,” stated Mariota, whose 205 yards passing included the go-ahead 22-yard strike to Eric Decker with six minutes left. “I am a part of an excellent staff. I am a part of a bunch of men that basically imagine in one another. And it is one thing particular.”
Now, the Titans will discover out Sunday whether or not they’re headed to New England or Pittsburgh subsequent.
Derrick Henry added a career-high 156 yards speeding and one other rating for Tennessee (10-7), whereas a protection fileted by Alex Smith and the Chiefs (10-7) in the primary half pitched a shutout in the second half — dooming the Kansas City franchise to a different humiliating postseason defeat.
The Chiefs have not gained a house playoff sport since January 1994.
“I am in shock,” Smith stated. “The swing at halftime to the ultimate whistle, undoubtedly a shock. Yeah. Didn’t really feel like we performed as much as how we’re able to taking part in and that is disappointing.
Smith threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns , however most of that got here earlier than halftime. He could not get going in the second half and misfired on fourth-and-9 on the Titans 44 with simply over two minutes to go, denying the Chiefs an opportunity for Harrison Butker to kick a go-ahead area aim.
Adding to the despair? Henry appeared to fumble as Tennessee tried to expire the clock.
The Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson picked up the ball and returned it for a landing with 1:47 to go, and the gang went wild as fireworks shot off over Arrowhead Stadium. But a replay clearly confirmed Henry down, the decision was overturned and Tennessee succeeded in operating out the clock. Mariota threw a block that helped spring Henry for a 22-yard achieve on third-and 10 late that helped end off the comeback.
“Grit. It’s simply grit,” Henry stated. “We instructed them we have got 30 minutes left, all we have got to do is play our sport. Execute the performs and every thing will maintain itself.”
In the primary half, the Chiefs seemed each bit the staff that had gained 4 straight in convincing trend, and the Titans seemed each bit the staff that backed into the playoffs.
Kareem Hunt, the league’s prime rusher this season , plunged in from 1 yard for a 7-Zero lead. Smith hit Travis Kelce, who later left with a concussion, with a 13-yard landing move. And he added one other TD toss to Demarcus Robinson on the ultimate offensive play for a 21-Three lead on the break.
“We had been feeling good,” Johnson stated. “We got here in 21-Three and that is all we had been speaking about: ‘Finish. Don’t get complacent. We have greater targets than this sport.'”
But it was the Titans who completed, and it was Mariota who led the best way. He capped a 91-yard TD drive to begin the second half in the weird fashions: Mariota threw a TD move to himself.
His throw to the top zone was batted proper again at him by Darrelle Revis, and Mariota hauled it in and dived for the aim line. It was the primary time a participant has thrown a TD move to himself in the playoffs, and the primary time in any sport for the reason that Vikings’ Brad Johnson in the course of the 1997 season.
“Right place, proper time,” Mariota stated with a smile.
Tennessee almost squandered its momentum when Adoree Jackson fumbled a punt, however the Chiefs had been unable to select up a primary down and Butker knocked a 48-yard area aim off the upright. And the Titans capitalized when Henry rumbled almost untouched 35 yards for a landing a couple of minutes later.
The Chiefs’ offense had been rendered impotent by that time, unable to maneuver the ball after Kelce left with a concussion in the primary half. And the Titans blanketed Tyreek Hill every time he touched the ball, they usually stacked the field to sluggish Hunt down in apparent speeding conditions.
Finally, the Titans pulled forward on Mariota’s strike to Decker, and that led to extra controversy from the officers. Tennessee went for a 2-point conversion and a field-goal edge, Mariota fumbled as he was getting sacked and Frank Zombo scooped up the ball for 2 factors the opposite approach.
But the officers had blown the play useless, ruling Mariota’s progress had been stopped, and the Titans retained the slimmest of margins — one that may stand as much as the ultimate whistle.
“I really feel actually good round our soccer staff,” Mularkey stated. “I do know what I will get from them each week. That’s feeling, understanding how they’ll come out, it doesn’t matter what.”
The Chiefs additionally complained in regards to the officers blowing their whistles on a play late in the primary half, when Mariota fumbled whereas getting sacked. He clearly misplaced the ball and the Chiefs picked it up, however the play couldn’t be reviewed. Tennessee wound up kicking a area aim.
Only two different street groups have rallied from at the very least 18 all the way down to win a playoff sport in NFL historical past. The Cowboys got here again from 21-Three in the primary half to beat the 49ers 30-28 in December 1972, and the Lions got here again from 27-7 in the second half to beat the 49ers in December 1957.
Kelce sustained his concussion on a depraved blow from Titans S Johnathan Cyprien late in the primary half. Kelce, who had 4 catches for 66 yards, lay surprised on the turf for a second earlier than wobbling to his toes. Trainers shortly took him to the locker room and he didn’t return.
The Titans’ opponent in the divisional spherical shall be determined Sunday. If the Jaguars beat the Bills in their wild-card matchup, Tennessee heads to New England to face the No. 1 seed. If Buffalo wins, the Titans head to face No. 2 seed Pittsburgh.
For extra NFL protection: http://www.professional32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL