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Titans vs. Chiefs 2018 results: Tennessee shocks Kansas City, moves on to Divisional Round

The Titans stormed back in the second half to shock the Chiefs in the first game of Wild Card Weekend.

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

If the first game of the 2018 playoffs is any indictation, this postseason is gonna be FUN. Jon Gruden, who is definitely not avoiding talk of him becoming the head coach of the Raiders (again), called his last game and it was a doozy.

Marcus Mariota might have saved Mike Mularkey’s job with his second-half performance, turning a 21-3 deficit into a 22-21 win. For the Kansas City Chiefs, it was yet another extremely hard to live with playoff loss. They haven’t won a postseason game at Arrowhead Stadium since 1994.

Here’s everything that happened:


Huge plays

Silly Highlights


Play by play

Final score: Titans 22, Chiefs 21

Titans 22, Chiefs 21: OOOOH boy, we got some drama. So Marcus Peters ripped the ball from Derrick Henry and Derrick Johnson picked it up and ran it into the end zone.

But the play had to be reviewed. Was Henry down? Yes, he was, clearly. Another brutal result for the Chiefs:

Henry iced the game a couple plays later with another first down — and with some help from Marcus Mariota’s incredible block.

Titans 22, Chiefs 21: Derrick Henry picked up a tough first down — and stayed in bounds — to get the game to the two-minute warning.

Titans 22, Chiefs 21: The Chiefs needed someone to NOT drop the ball, so they called on Demetrius Harris, a former basketball player turned tight end for a pivotal third down.

Then two players later, he dropped a ball, thanks in part to good coverage from Johnathan Cyprien. On third down, Alex Smith tried to run for the first down, but ran right into Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.

The biggest play of the entire game so far came next: fourth-and-9 from the Tennessee 44. Alex Smith just barely overthrew Albert Wilson, and the ball went right off his fingertips.

The Titans get the ball back with two minutes left.

Titans 22, Chiefs 21: Marcus Mariota is gonna try to get the Titans the win all on his own:

He missed a wiiiiiiide open Corey Davis in the end zone, but then made a much harder throw to Eric Decker, who held on this time.

The two-point conversion failed again, and yet another forward progress call stopped the Chiefs from turning it into a two-point play of their own.

So the Titans have the lead. If they can hang on, this will be one of the toughest playoff losses for the Chiefs, a franchise that has quite a few of them already.

Chiefs 21, Titans 16: Both teams have had some brutal drops in this game. A third-down drop from Orson Charles, in for the injured Travis Kelce, gives the Titans the ball back with a chance to lead for the first time all game.

Chiefs 21, Titans 16: The Titans started the fourth quarter off with a 35-yard touchdown run from Derrick Henry:

The two-point conversion failed, but there have to be a LOT of nervous Chiefs fans right about now.

Oh, and Jon Gruden showed us his phone. Thanks, Dad!

Third quarter: Chiefs 21, Titans 10

Chiefs 21, Titans 10: Just when it looked like the Chiefs were in the process of blowing this game after a three-and-out, the Titans ran into the punter. So the Chiefs get the ball back, right? Not so fast. The Chiefs ALSO got hit with an unnecessary roughness flag. So the Titans get the ball, right?

Not so fast. Adoree Jackson muffed the punt and the Chiefs recovered.

So the Chiefs got a second chance, right? Well sorta. Their offense stalled and Harrison Butker, who made 90.5 percent of his field goal attempts this season, hit the left upright on a 48-yard try.

Uh, Chiefs, you ok?

Chiefs 21, Titans 10: The Titans needed a first down like whoa, and Marcus Mariota busted up the middle to get it.

Then they needed a touchdown and again WHOOOOOOOOA Mariota, who caught his own touchdown. Yes, you read that right:

It was Mariota’s first ever playoff touchdown, too.

And no surprise to anyone watching this game, but the officiating has been PRETTY bad. Marcus Peters even gave them a pity hug:

Halftime: Chiefs 21, Titans 3

Chiefs 21, Titans 3: Travis Kelce took a big helmet-to-helmet hit and was wobbly when he tried to get up. He immediately went to the locker room and is out for the rest of the game.

The Chiefs didn’t miss him for the rest of the drive, though. Alex Smith marched them right down the field and with three seconds left before halftime, he unleashed a naaaasty pump fake and threw a strike to Demarcus Robinson for another touchdown:

Smith was on fire for the first half:

And remember: two of those incompletions were drops.

Chiefs 14, Titans 3: Marcus Mariota was able to shake off the interception on their last drive. He found his favorite target this afternoon, Delanie Walker, for a big gain and then threw a laser to Corey Davis for another first down.

But here’s where another “but” comes in. But then the Titans stalled again. Derrick Henry missed a block and nearly got Mariota decapitated on this Derrick Johnson sack:

Mariota fumbled before he hit the ground, but ref Jeff Triplette ruled that forward progress had been established so it couldn’t be challenged. The Titans were then able to get on the board with a field goal.

Chiefs 14, Titans 0: The Titans picked up the tempo on this drive, and it looked like it might pay off when they got to the Kansas City 21-yard line ...

Then Marcus Mariota threw a pick to, who else, but Marcus Peters, who now has 21 interceptions in his career.

Marcus vs. Marcus

The Chiefs couldn’t do much with the ensuing possession, so the Titans got the ball right back, just at the other end of the field.

Chiefs 14, Titans 0: Alex Smith is ready to make his legacy with the Chiefs. Here he is throwing a block:

Chiefs 14, Titans 0: Marcus Mariota did all he could on third-and-4, avoiding a sack and throwing a dart to Eric Decker. But Decker, infected with the dropsies lately, couldn’t hold on to it.

First quarter: Chiefs 14, Titans 0

Chiefs 14, Titans 0: The Titans didn’t go three-and-out this time! Marcus Mariota used his scrambling ability to get their first first down of the afternoon.

Chiefs 14, Titans 0: Tennessee hasn’t been able to stop the yards-after-catch ability of Tyreek Hill and Albert Wilson, putting the Chiefs in scoring range just like that *snaps fingers*. Then Alex Smith and Travis Kelce hooked up for an easy 13-yard touchdown.

This game could get out of hand unless the Titans can wake up on both sides of the ball.

Chiefs 7, Titans 0: A 15 yard-penalty on Titans center Ben Jones — and Chris Jones snatching the flag in the air — was the only excitement on what was yet another three-and-out. Might want to get used to hearing Brett Kern’s name:

Unfortunately for the Titans, the punt was kind of a stinker. Fortunately for them, the Chiefs got a 15-yard penalty after the punt. Jeff Triplette is in the building, folks:

Chiefs 7, Titans 0: Alex Smith’s on-the-money pass to Tyreek Hill was dropped (again). He made up for it two plays later, though:

The 45-yard catch set up another big gain when Smith connected with Travis Kelce for 27 yards. Two plays after that, Kareem Hunt punched it in for the first score of the 2018 playoffs. That’s a pretty good sign for the Chiefs:

Chiefs 0, Titans 0: A miscommunication between Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis turned an almost first down into a three-and-out.

A 57-yard punt set up an opportunity for Tyreek Hill to dazzle us, which he did — albeit with just an 8-yard gain.

Chiefs 0, Titans 0: Alex Smith, who has somehow turned into a deep-ball passer this year, found an open Tyreek Hill ... who dropped a would-be big gain. Then on third down, Smith hit safety blanket Travis Kelce for the first down.

The Titans’ D clamped down after that, stopping Kareem Hunt on two straight runs and then forcing Smith to throw it away on third down. The Titans now get the ball for the first time today.

The top stories from the Wild Card Round

Before the game

The 2018 NFL playoffs officially get underway with the Wild Card Round on Saturday. The first game of the day features the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Tennessee Titans, making their first playoff appearance since 2008. The game starts at 4:30 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN (live stream at WatchESPN).

The Chiefs are in the postseason for the third straight year and fourth time under coach Andy Reid, taking the division title at 10-6. It’s been a strange, somewhat uneven year for Reid’s squad, but it did enough in the end to punch its playoff ticket.

Alex Smith had one of his better seasons, setting new career highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26), and QB Rating (104.7). The Chiefs also found a new star in running back Kareem Hunt, who won the NFL’s rushing title with 1,327 yards in his rookie year. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill fill out a passing game that struggles with consistency but is potentially deadly when firing on all cylinders.

The defense has suffered without lockdown safety Eric Berry, who tore his Achilles in the season opener. Despite his loss, there are plenty of talented stars the Titans have to account for on this side of the ball. Marcus Peters remains one of the best cornerbacks in football, while Justin Houston recorded 9.5 sacks in his first full season since struggling with ACL injuries the past two years.

The Chiefs started the season 5-0 and looked like genuine Super Bowl contenders, but they hit a massive hard patch in the middle of the season. The offense disappeared for long stretches as Kansas City lost six of seven games, nearly blowing its AFC West lead. But the Chiefs recovered in time to win their last four games and get some momentum back ahead of the playoffs. They have the on-paper talent to go toe-to-toe with the best of the NFL — if they could only get out of their own way.

As for the Titans, they arguably backed into the playoffs at 9-7, only making it by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17. After losing three of their last four games, they’re hardly entering the playoffs on a high note. Still, the Titans boast some talented pieces that could give the Chiefs trouble.

Marcus Mariota makes the first playoff appearance of his career, but he hasn’t quite taken that next step forward in his third year. Instead, he regressed in several areas, throwing a career-high 15 interceptions to just 13 touchdowns and averaging a dismal 6.2 yards per attempt. The run game has also struggled, with DeMarco Murray averaging 3.6 yards per carry while playing through multiple leg injuries. Murray will be touch-and-go this week as he tries to recover from a sprained MCL.

The Titans’ biggest strength lies in their defense, but even that hasn’t always been at its best. Safety Kevin Byard tied for the league lead with eight interceptions, but the Titans ranked 25th in passing yards allowed. They’re best up front, where the run defense allowed only 88.8 yards per game and Jurrell Casey got named to the Pro Bowl after six sacks. Slowing down Hunt might be the Titans’ best chance if they hope to pull off the road upset at Arrowhead Stadium.

Pregame reading

The 38 points scored by the Jets is a clear outlier in the last two months. Look at those points allowed numbers and then come back and tell me the Chiefs are a bad defense. They’re not. Those numbers say they are the worst run defense in the NFL but they are not. The Chiefs haven’t allowed 100 rushing yards in three of the past four games. They’ve forced 12 turnovers in their four-game winning streak.

Some numbers out there might indicate the Chiefs have been a bad defense this season but they’re not bad right now. This defense held the Steelers to 18 points at home last year. This is a defense that has the potential to help carry the Chiefs in the postseason.

And maybe the best part for Mahomes is he has something Alex Smith never had when he was a first-round rookie in San Francisco back in 2005. Mahomes has an Alex Smith, a 13-year pro in the prime of his career to learn from.

After years of searching for that one quarterback, it’s kind of funny how things turned out. Now the Chiefs have two.

Look, I’m not saying the Titans will absolutely win this game, but I am saying there is a scenario where they are able to go in there and control the clock with run game. That makes for an ugly game. We know the Titans are comfortable in those. It would also keep the Chiefs’ explosive offense on the sideline.

There is no doubt this will be a tough test, but let’s not count the Titans out just yet.