Chiefs Take Revenge on Titans

Remember the Titans?  The Chiefs certainly did.  Last year the Chiefs were dismantled by the Titans 27 to 3.  In fact, they held Patrick Mahomes to a mere 206 yards and no touchdowns while forcing an interception.  When last year’s game got so out of hand there was no coming back, Coach Andy Reid pulled Mahomes and played Chad Henne.  This year’s result was much different.  Even with a rookie quarterback at the helm, the Titans thought they could bully the Chiefs on the field.  They were mistaken.


First Half Recap

The Chiefs appeared to start the game well, getting the ball and driving it all the way to the Titan eight-yard line.  Then on second and goal, a holding call was assessed against the Chiefs putting them on the 18-yard line.  This mental mistake cost the Chiefs four points and they had to eventually settle for a field goal.

The Chiefs defense started off hot forcing a three and out against the Titans.  It looked like they would be able to contain Derrick Henry.  Mahomes and company drove the length of the field, scoring on a Mecole Hardman seven-yard reception.  Unfortunately, Harrison Butker missed the point after.  Snake bit again?!

Early in the second quarter, Derrick Henry started taking control of the game.  After Malik Willis hit a 16-yard throw and ran another 17 yards, Henry ripped off a 24-yard run flipping the field to the Titans favor.  It was third and five and the Chiefs pressure forced Malik Willis to dirt the ball short of the receiver.  Unfortunately, Chris Jones lined up offsides negating a great Chiefs defensive play.  On third and inches, Henry danced into the end-zone.  The feeling at this point in the game was the Chiefs needed to tighten up.  Their offense needs to score and the defense will have some time to figure out the Titans offensive attack.

Coach Mike Vrabel is well schooled.  He understands the game well.  He knows how to defend a dynamic quarterback.  He felt his front four defensive lineman could pressure Mahomes consistently while he ran a mixture of coverages on the back end, attempting to take away Travis Kelce, the Chiefs most lethal pass catcher.  For most of the game Coach Vrabel had it right.  During the Chiefs next possession, they committed a holding penalty making it 3rd and 20.  They had converted the first down and collected a bunch of yards, but the penalty forced a do over plus ten yards.  They could not convert.  Titans ball.  This time Henry gashed the hapless Chiefs defense for 56 yards, tumbling into the red-zone.  A few plays later he smashed into the end-zone.  Titans had the lead.

The Chiefs and Titans traded three and outs.  Then the Chiefs went into the two-minute drill and it looked like they had something going.  It was 3rd and 1 on the 50-yard line.  Denico Autry smashed thru the Chiefs offensive line sacking Mahomes for a six-yard loss forcing a punt with 34 seconds left in the half.   The game had been very chippy at this point.  The Chiefs, sore from last year’s route, were looking for revenge and the Titans knew it. Time to regroup.


2nd Half Blues for the Titans

During the third quarter it looked as if the Titans took control of the ball.  Though they couldn’t move the ball at the start of the quarter, their defense was holding the Chiefs down, forcing a turnover during their first possession of the second half.  They capitalized on Roger McCreary’s interception by kicking a field goal.  The Chiefs did drive the ball to the Titans 29-yard line on the next possession, but Harrison Butker missed the field goal attempt.  Once again, the Chiefs and Titans traded field goals as they headed into the fourth quarter.  Of note, Derrick Henry only carried the ball three times for a total of eight yards in the third quarter.

Both squads started the fourth quarter trading punts again.  In fact, the Titans kept the Chiefs from scoring on seven drives in a row.  This accomplishment started in the early in the second quarter.  Midway thru the fourth quarter the Chiefs finally put together a promising drive.  The momentum of the game changed on a 3rd and 17.  The Titans went to zero coverage giving Mahomes no choice but to run 20 yards for a first down.  After throwing an incomplete, he hit three different receivers in a row for a total of 34 yards.  A few plays later, after being flushed out of the pocket, Mahomes juked a defensive lineman out of his shoes and bowled into two Titans defensive backs on his way to touchdown.  After several attempts due to penalties, the Chiefs converted a two-point conversion bringing the score even, 17 to 17.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The game eventually went into overtime.  Patrick Mahomes was forced into his usual heroics, avoiding pressure, throwing at odd angles while his receivers found ways to catch is slightly off target throws.  Still, the Titans defense stiffened forcing a field goal which Butker made this time.  The Chiefs defense came out fired up and before we knew it, the situation as 3rd and 21.  The whole defensive line tracked Malik Willis down for yet another sack, this time on the Titans own nine-yard line.  On 4th and 26, the Titans had to go for it.  Willis’s pass was almost picked off for a touchdown by L’Jarius Sneed.  Game over.


Keys to Win

The keys to victory were simple.  First, Patrick Mahomes was special.  Second, the defense held Derrick Henry in check.  Henry only managed four carries for 13 yards in the fourth quarter.  In fact, his second half total was a paltry 21 yards.  Most of his yards were in the first half on two explosive chunk plays, a 24 yard and 56 yard run respectively.  Third, Malik Willis is a rookie.  He struggled most of the game.  His best plays occurred in the 2nd quarter when he executed a flawless read option play for 17 yards and then Henry ripped off a 24-yard run.  Willis is a big, strong quarterback.  I felt at that point in the game they were just going to run him and see what happens.  Thankfully they didn’t.  Henry’s second half pitch count didn’t make sense either.  Thought the Chiefs defense stiffened up quite a bit, the Titans could have kept hammering away with him.  In the end, Mahomes had to be special to put points on the board, and he was.

Patrick Mahomes doubled his output from last year’s game, throwing for 446 yards and a touchdown.  He also rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown.  He was the leading rusher for the Chiefs as the other three running backs only managed 14 yards rushing between the three of them.  Though he connected with 11 receivers, 5 of those he connected with three or more times.  Travis Kelce led the way with 10 catches on 17 targets.  Carlos Dunlap II should be given a game ball for his timely sack at the end of the game on a 3rd and 8.  That is what he was brought in for; to be a late game closer for the Chiefs.

Now the Chiefs are tied with the Bills for first in the AFC.  Next week the Chiefs welcome the Jaguars to town.

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