NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Titans’ valiant string of playoff victories ended Sunday one game short of the Super Bowl as the Kansas City Chiefs defeated them 35-24 to take the AFC title.
The Titans had previously won road games at New England and Baltimore, but were unable to hold a pair of early 10 point leads in Kansas City. The Chiefs scored 28 unanswered points in the second and third quarters, turning a 17-7 deficit into a 35-17 lead, making a final Titans score anticlimactic.
The Titans were unable to clamp down on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who hurt the Titans both through the air and on the ground. Mahomes had three touchdown passes and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a dramatic 27-yard run. Mahomes completed 23 of 35 passes for 294 yards. The Chiefs also mostly held Derrick Henry in check, limiting him to 69 yards on 19 rushes. Ryan Tannehill completed 21 of 31 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown, but the Chiefs defense was able to hold the Titans to one second half score, while their offense was blowing the game open.
Still, anyone who saw the early season struggles of the Titans marvels at the turnaround once head coach Mike Vrabel inserted Tannehill as the starter. They went from 2-4 to the AFC championship game. Now decisions loom in the offseason. Both Henry and Tannehill, as well as former starter Marcus Mariota, are free agents. What happens with them will be a big factor in whether the Titans continue to improve next season, or take a step back.