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Titans rally to edge Chiefs 22-21 in playoffs

07 January, 2018, 06:54 | Author: Greg Wolfe

Three first downs brought the Chiefs to the Titans' 44-yard line, but Smith's fourth-and-9 pass over the middle bounced off receiver Albert Wilson's fingertips, and the Titans retook possession with a little over two minutes remaining.

Adding to the depression?

Henry and the Titans dodged a bullet moments earlier, when the running back appeared to fumble for the second time in the game.

The Chiefs' Derrick Johnson picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown with 1:47 to go, and the crowd went wild as fireworks shot off over Arrowhead Stadium. Mariota threw a block that helped spring Henry for a 22-yard gain on third-and 10 late that helped finish off the comeback.

"Grit. Its just grit", Henry said of his teams rally. "Not consistent enough. Didn't come out and make the plays we needed".

It took only one play from scrimmage in the second half for the bad juju to begin. The win was the organization's first playoff win since 2003. In addition to throwing more than 200 yards, Mariota rushed eight times for 46 yards, out rushing the NFL's leading rusher in Kareem Hunt. The Cowboys came back from 21-3 down in the first half to beat the 49ers 30-28 in December 1972, and the Lions came back from 27-7 in the second half to beat the 49ers in December 1957.

The Chiefs seemed to retake the momentum when Tennessee's Adoree' Jackson fumbled the ensuing punt and KC recovered, but three fruitless plays later, rookie kicker Harrison Butker doinked a 48-yard attempt off the left upright - evoking shades of Elliott, who missed a game-winning kick in the waning seconds of a 10-7 loss to Indianapolis in a January 7, 1996 divisional-round game.

"The turnovers are something we've got to clean up", Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. It was the first time a player has thrown a TD pass to himself in the playoffs, and the first time in any game since the Vikings' Brad Johnson during the 1997 season.

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Mariota, whose pass was batted by Darrelle Revis, snagged the ball and dove into the end zone, capping a 15-play, 91-yard drive that lasted 8½ minutes.

Tennessee almost squandered its momentum when Adoree Jackson fumbled a punt, but the Chiefs were unable to pick up a first down and Butker knocked a 48-yard field goal off the upright.

"I don't really have anything good to say there so I'm just going to stay away from any comments about those guys".

Along the way, the Chiefs lost All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce to a concussion and defensive tackle Chris Jones to an ankle injury, depriving them of emotional leaders on both sides of the ball. And the Titans capitalized when Henry rumbled almost untouched 35 yards for a touchdown a few minutes later.

Kelce didn't return to the game and the Chiefs struggled offensively in the second half.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, Titans running back Derrick Henry broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run.

Wrong. Triplette ruled that Mariota's forward progress had been stopped. I don't want to get fined.

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