By Terrance Turner
Nov. 6, 2022
Tonight’s “Sunday Night Football” was one for the ages. The Tennessee Titans came to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams were 5-2. The Chiefs were playing at home, on the heels of a bye week. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 20 touchdown passes. But the Titans have won five straight games, despite QB Ryan Tannehill being injured. (Maliek Willis started tonight in place of Tannehill.) Titans running back Derrick Henry was sensational, scoring two touchdowns in the first half. But it was the Chiefs who had the last laugh.
The Chiefs began with a lengthy opening drive. Isiah Pacheco returned the kickoff 20+ yards. Two plays later, Mahomes threw to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for eight yards. And the game got chippy right away when Kelce scrapped with a Titans defender.
The drive culminated in a field goal by kicker Harrison Butker.
The Chiefs found the end sone on their next drive. Mahomes located Justin Watson for an incredible gain of 30 yards. Two plays later, he hit Kardarius Toney for ten yards more. Mahomes tossed a pass short right to Juju Smith-Schuster for 9 yards. That took them to the three yard dline. Running back Clyde Edwards Helaire rushed for what looked like a first down. But the referees ruled him short, ruling 3rd and inches. That ruling came at the end of the first quarter.
A false start penalty on guard Joe Thuney moved the Chiefs back even further. Now it was 3rd and 5. But just when hope was starting to dim, Mahomes passed the ball to wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who dashed forward for the touchdown. The extra point kick by Butker was no good. But Kansas City had a nine point lead.
The Titans took over. Their drive featured two big runs: a seventeen yard scramble by Willis and a 24 yard surge by Henry. Consequently, the Titans were able to advance to the fifteen yard line. A couple plays later, they were at the eight. Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones got flagged for jumping offsides. That put the Titans at the four. And then Titans running back Derrick Henry bulldozed his way in for the touchdown.
Following the Chiefs’ punt, The Titans regained possession. And Henry took off, breaking tackles for a spectacular run, a gain of 55+ yards. Then Willis followed that up with a huge throw to tight end Austin Hooper. That made it first and goal from the two yard line. After coming up just short of the goal line, Henry powered his way into the end sone for his second touchdown of the night.
The Titans defense harassed Mahomes all through the next drive. He was unable to escape on the last play, and the Chiefs were forced to punt. But the Titans didn’t fare any better on their drive. The drive stalled, and defender Jaylen Watson broke up what would’ve been a game changing pass. But Watson got hurt on the play. He laid on the ground for several minutes before getting up and walking off the field.
And the Chiefs’ drive stalled, too. Both Mahomes and Kelce were subjected to some questionable defensive action on the last play, but no flags were thrown. The Chiefs punted with under 20 seconds left. Tennessee led by five at the half.
Things got off to a rough start for the Chiefs as the second half began. Kelce tried to catch a pass from Mahomes in the middle of running a route, and the ball bounced off his hands. It landed in the hands of Tennessee. The drive went nowhere. But the Titans turned that turnover into points. Kicker Randy Bullock made a 55 yard field goal.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs weren’t as lucky. They fought their way through a drive dominated by the Titans defense, but Butker missed a forty seven yard field goal. So it remained an eight point game.
The offenses dried up after that. Neither team scored any points until midway through the fourth quarter. But when they did, it was stunning to watch. On 3rd and seventeen, with nobody open, Mahomes had no choice but to run. He scampered his way to a rushing touchdown and gave his team life.
Then Mahomes ran again, using his legs to pick up a two point conversion.
The game went to overtime. Mahomes valiantly rallied the Chiefs through the drive. Mahomes threw to backup TE Noah Gray who made an incredible catch. Gray reached up and bobbled the pass and then caught it on his second attempt.
Mahomes next threw a short pass to Kelce. On second down, Chiefs wide receiver Jerick McKinnon was stopped short of the first down. He threw incomplete to Hardman.The Chiefs went for it on 4th and one and Mahomes completed a pass to Juju Smith-Schuster.
That enabled the Chiefs to score. Harrison Butker nailed a field goal to give the Chiefs a three point lead in overtime. And the Titans couldn’t respond. Willis was sacked on 3rd down and then threw an incomplete pass on fourth down. Kansas City won in overtime. Mahomes threw for over four hundred yards and a touchdown.
“Our defense played their tail off,” Mahomes said after the game. “They kept us in this game, and we struggled for about three quarters. But the guys they battled.” He added: ‘Its not always going to be pretty and that defense always game plans well. They play hard; it’s a hard defense to play against. So I’m just glad we found a way to win in the end.”