The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans, 22-21, on Saturday night, ending their season. Since their victory in Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs are 4-16 in playoff games. After jumping out to an 18-point lead, Tennessee responded with 19 unanswered points in the second half. Only four times since the 1930’s has an NFL team blown an 18-point lead in a playoff game. Andy Reid has been the head coach for two of those.
”Honestly we just didn’t come out ready to play in the second half, that’s what I’d say,” Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt said. ”Nobody likes losing and this one’s for real. We’re going home.”
“I felt like we didn’t come out aggressively in the second half,” said Chiefs wide receiver DeMarcus Robinson.
Here are the key plays that ultimately cost the Chiefs:
1-2:41 left in the first half. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson blitzes up the middle and blasts Titans QB Marcus Mariota who is ruled down but clearly fumbled the football. Referee Jeff Triplett rules Mariota’s forward progress was stopped, resulting in a sack. Tennessee kicks a 49-yard field goal from Ryan Succop for their first points of the game.
“I don’t know how you can call a guy down or blow the whistle when he didn’t hit the ground yet, especially on a sack,” Johnson said.
2-1:40 to play in the first half. Alex Smith’s pass to Travis Kelce is complete for 12 yards, but Kelce is hit on a helmet-to-helmet collision and leaves the game for concussion protocol. Kelce never returns, and despite the Chiefs going up 21-3 on this drive the offense never looks the same. Kansas City gains just 56 yards on their final possessions after that score.
3-12:30 to play in the 3rd quarter. Tennessee is faced with a 3rd and 9 from their 20 yard line. Marcus Mariota scrambles for a first down, keeping the Chiefs defense on the field for a drive that ends up taking 15 plays, covering 92 yards and 8:29 off the clock. This TD makes the score 21-10.
4-4:49 left in the 3rd quarter. Titans rookie Adoree Jackson muffs a punt that the Chiefs recover at the Tennessee 29 yard line. Kansas City loses two yards on three plays and settle for a FG attempt from Harrison Butker. The reliable rookie hits the upright and the Chiefs come away with no points. That missed opportunity for three will haunt the Chiefs.
5-0:31 to go in the 3rd quarter. While scrambling, Mariota throws a pass that is batted down at the goal line by Darrelle Revis. The ball goes back to Mariota who catches his own pass and dives for the pylon cutting the Chiefs lead to 21-16. Mariota becomes just the second player in league history to complete a pass to himself for a touchdown. Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson pulled off the feat on Oct. 12, 1997, against the Carolina Panthers.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he had a front-row view of the historic play.
“I was looking right at it,” he said. “Things happen. The ball bounced right for him.”