NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Kansas City Chiefs realize they have plenty of room for improvement even as one of the NFL’s last three undefeated teams. The Tennessee Titans need to get their running game going if they’re going to survive until Jake Locker returns.
Jamaal Charles ran for 108 yards and the go-ahead touchdown with 6:23 left, Ryan Succop kicked four field goals and the Chiefs picked off two passes to preserve a 26-17 win over the Titans on Sunday keeping them perfect.
“You’ve got high hopes all the time going into the season,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ” We didn’t chalk up wins that we were going to be 5-0 at this mark. At the same time, we are expecting to win. The big thing is we are getting better and winning at the same time. I can’t wait. We are going to peak at the right moment.”
Now the Chiefs head home for a three-game homestand trying to build on this perfect start and stay tied with Denver atop the AFC West. The Titans have their own issues with a trip to Seattle next before hosting San Francisco going into their bye week.
Here are the five things we learned from the Chiefs’ win over the Titans:
RESILIENT KANSAS CITY: The Chiefs watched a 13-0 halftime lead turned into a 17-13 deficit after the first play of the fourth quarter. The Titans held the ball more than 12 minutes and outgained Kansas City 153-20 in the third quarter and had all the momentum going their way. Then the Chiefs took it back with Charles and their defense. Charles, hampered with blisters on his toes during the week, ran 11 times for 50 yards, including the go-ahead TD on a 1-yard run for the Chiefs’ only offensive TD of the game.
“He’s a tough kid,” Reid said. “He willed his way through there along with the offensive line in the fourth quarter.”
The defense also came up with the two interceptions, setting up two of Succop’s field goals for the final margin.
RUSTY FITZ-MAGIC: Ryan Fitzpatrick missed on his first six passes for the Titans, and he was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter trying to bring Tennessee back in his first start since last season when he was in Buffalo. In between, Fitzpatrick threw for more yards (247-245) than Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and wound up as the Titans’ leading rusher with 50 yards on six carries, including a 9-yard TD off a scramble. With Jake Locker out with his sprained right hip, Fitzpatrick has to start at Seattle and against San Francisco before the Titans’ bye.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The Chiefs are known for having loud support back in Kansas City. Well, their fans travel pretty well, and they put enough red into LP Field that they were able to be heard during the national anthem into the fourth quarter as the Chiefs rallied. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said they definitely had an impact.
“My hat goes off to the fans,” Reid said. “The fans really controlled that lower bowl there. We heard them and really appreciate all that support they were able to give us especially down the stretch there.”
TITANS RUN GAME: The Titans revamped the interior of their offensive line this offseason and signed two veterans in Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle to back up Chris Johnson. But Tennessee couldn’t run against a Kansas City defense that had been giving up 117.5 yards per game. Johnson’s longest run went for 6 yards, and he was on the sideline for a drive when the Titans finally got going before turning the ball over on downs after missing four shots at the end zone from the Chiefs 1. Johnson finished with 17 yards on 10 carries.
“We have to help the quarterback there, and we didn’t in too many situations,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We have to regain that confidence that we can do that.”
MARCUS COOPER IS A KEEPER: On a defense that already had four Pro Bowlers last season, Cooper is showing he can make plays too. He recovered a punt that bounced off Titans receiver Damian Williams as he blocked on a punt. The cornerback also wrestled a pass away from Nate Washington for an interception on Tennessee’s first play after Kansas City took back the lead for good.