Recap: Chiefs rally to beat Titans and stay perfect
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans sure didn’t help out their new quarterback very much, and now they have a painful loss leaving them with plenty of problems to fix.
Chris Johnson ran for only 17 yards on 10 carries, special teams cost Tennessee its first turnover this season and the Titans couldn’t score more than a field goal despite having first-and-goal twice in wasting a second-half rally Sunday and losing 26-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“With a team like that coming in, an undefeated team, we can’t mistakes,” Titans running back Jackie Battle said. “And we made some costly mistakes.”
The first ended the Titans’ first chance at the ball when Damian Williams had a punt glance off him as he was blocking for returner Darius Reynaud, sending the ball dribbling to the end zone where Marcus Cooper recovered for a touchdown. The Chiefs also stopped the Titans despite four plays from the Kansas City 1 in the second quarter and held Tennessee to a 22-yard field goal in the third after having first-and-goal at the 7.
Jake Locker, on crutches with his sprained hip, watched from the sideline as Ryan Fitzpatrick missed on his first six passes with the Titans (3-2) going three-and-out on their first five possessions.
Fitzpatrick wound up throwing for 247 yards, and he was the Titans’ top rusher with 50 yards on six carries. He connected with Johnson on a short flip pass for a 49-yard TD, and Fitzpatrick also ran for a 9-yard TD giving Tennessee a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Fitzpatrick also was intercepted twice after Kansas City took the lead for good.
Johnson watched from the sideline when the Titans finally got going in the second quarter. He said he feels he should be on the field, but offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains makes those calls.
“A lot of mistakes were made on our half,” Johnson said. “This is just a work in progress. We need to get better. If we want to be the type of team that we want to be and make it to the playoffs, we have to get the running game corrected. It’s on everybody, the running backs, the line, everybody.”
This was an early AFC showdown between teams bouncing back from disappointing seasons in 2012. The Chiefs (5-0) bounced back from an ugly third quarter in which they were outgained 153-20 when Jamaal Charles scored a 1-yard touchdown with 6:23 left to put them ahead to stay 20-17.
The Chiefs are off to their best start since 2003, when they won their first nine games.
“I am speechless right now,” Charles said. “This team is very blessed to be 5-0 right now. Nobody expected us to be 5-0.”
Charles finished with 50 of his 108 yards on 22 carries coming in the fourth quarter on 11 carries. Ryan Succop kicked four field goals, including a 48-yarder.
The Titans had one last chance needing to score twice and sent Rob Bironas out for a 32-yard field goal. But Bironas missed wide right, and time expired.
“We’re all frustrated,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “I think a lot of guys didn’t make plays when they had to.”
Now Kansas City heads home for a three-game stretch, though the Chiefs had plenty of support on the road in Nashville.
“I thought the fans controlled that lower bowl there and we heard them and we appreciate all that support that they were able to give us, especially down the stretch there,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
The Chiefs and Titans came in tied atop the NFL with a plus-9 turnover margin, but it was Kansas City that forced three turnovers and turned those into 13 points. The Titans forced two they managed to convert into a touchdown.
The Chiefs’ go-ahead drive was keyed by an unnecessary roughness flag on Titans linebacker Moises Fokou for hitting Alex Smith as the quarterback scrambled on third-and-5. Smith picked up only 2 yards and was hit at the sideline, and the flag gave the Chiefs a first down.
“If you’re not sliding, to me, you’re not giving yourself up,” Munchak said of Smith. “He wasn’t sliding.”
Cooper wrestled the ball away from Nate Washington with 6:14 left, and Quintin Demps picked off a pass that bounced off Titans receiver Kendall Wright with 2:39 left. Succop added field goals of 33 and 48 yards after each to pad the lead.
Notes: Titans LB Zach Brown hurt his right knee and twice went to the sideline. Titans DE Derrick Morgan hurt his shoulder late. … Chiefs WR Donnie Avery hurt a shoulder himself in the first half, but returned. … The Chiefs now have scored 50 points off turnovers this season and the Titans 52.