Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/EditorTitansOnline.com
Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien made the hit of the day, and the defensive play of the game in the end, in the team’s 22-21 playoff game win over the Chiefs.
KANSAS CITY – Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien made the hit of the day in the first half, and the defensive play of the game in the end.He was part of a defensive effort that stymied the Chiefs in the second half, and helped the Titans rally for a 22-21 playoff game win in Kansas City.
“It happened because as a team, we knew we were going to win this game,” Cyprien said of the comeback. “We came in here at halftime, and honestly there wasn’t a doubt in anybody’s minds. We were focused, and we knew we were going to win this game.”
Trailing 21-3 at the half, things weren’t looking good for the Titans. By then, the Chiefs had already tallied three touchdowns, 16 first downs, and 264 yards of offense, with plenty of big plays.In the final seconds of the half, the Chiefs reached the end zone on a pass from quarterback Alex Smith to receiver Demarcus Robinson. The Titans appeared to be in trouble.
“We definitely didn’t want to let them get 21 points on us. But, they did,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “We settled down coming out in the second half. We put our ballgame together. The offense started putting points on the board.”
“We just took it one play at a time, and didn’t get too high or low,” linebacker Derrick Morgan said. “We weathered the storm, and pulled it out.”
A big hit in the first half – made by Cyprien – clearly made a huge impact on the game. Cyprien’s hard contact on Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce knocked the Pro Bowler out of the game with a concussion in the second quarter. At that point in the contest, Kelce had already tallied four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Without Kelce, the Chiefs struggled.
“I realize that,” Cyprien said of the magnitude of Kelce’s absence. “Travis Kelce is a great player, and I hope that he recovers fast. I would hate for that to happen. My mindset, and our defensive mindset, is we want to play everyone’s best. We want your best shot. We want to come out victorious, but we want you to be at your best.“I understand he is a big part of their team. And by him being out, it helped us defensively.”
The Chiefs managed just three first downs and 61 yards of offense in the second half, when Kansas City converted only 1-of-5 third down chances.
In the end, with the game on the line, Cyprien stepped up a made a big defensive play.
On fourth-and-nine from the Tennessee 44-yard line with just 2:15 left, Smith threw the ball down the middle of the field, aiming for Albert Wilson.
But Cyprien was Johnny-on-the-spot for the Titans. He knocked the ball away, and the Titans ran out the clock.
“I was just back there and read the quarterback, and did my job,” Cyprien said. “I wanted to intercept it — I thought it was going to be overthrown. And at the last second I saw the receiver was in the vicinity and I just wanted to separate him from the ball.
“I was happy I was able to do my job. Man, it’s just great to win.”