NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here’s a look at six things that stood out for the Titans in Saturday’s 22-21 win over the Chiefs:
Mariota’s magicOK, so the potential for magic from Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was one of the categories in the “Six Things to Watch” leading up to the game. Then Mariota went out and guided the team to an improbable come-from-behind win by throwing two touchdowns, catching one of his own passes for a touchdown, and making a key block on running back Derrick Henry’s game-sealing run late. The Titans went 7-for-8 on third down in the second half. Mariota didn’t pull any rabbits out of his helmet in Kansas City. Maybe he’s saving that one for this week against the Patriots?
He’s no softyRunning back Derrick Henry backed up his words, and he’s going to need to keep it going. After saying he felt like he ran “soft” in the season-finale against the Jaguars, Henry was a bruiser against the Chiefs. Henry ran for 156 yards in the game, including a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Henry piled up 114 yards in the second half. After averaging 1.8 yards a tote vs. Jacksonville, he averaged 6.8 yards per carry vs. KC. The Patriots are ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing average per carry.
Decker deliversIt was a bad stretch of drops for Titans receiver Eric Decker, starting with some costly drops against the Jaguars. Then he let a ball bounce off of him in Kansas City. But with the game on the line, Decker delivered with a clutch grab. Credit Mariota for continuing to trust his veteran receiver, and credit Decker for making the big grab. The Titans are going to Decker and the receivers to make plays on Saturday.
Defense, defense, defenseMan, things didn’t look good early. The Chiefs stung the Titans for one big play after another in the first half, tallying three touchdowns, 16 first downs, and 264 yards of offense while jumping out to a 21-3 halftime lead. But the Titans clamped down when it mattered most, limiting the Chiefs to just three first downs and 61 yards of offense in the second half, when Kansas City converted only 1-of-5 third down chances. The Titans turned up the heat with pressure, and guys in coverage made plays. The challenge this week is even tougher, but the defense has its swagger back.
OfficiatingWell, I can’t sit here and say the officiating didn’t stand out in Kansas City, because it did. There were bad spots, questionable calls, and plenty of indecision from the crew. Chiefs fans were upset with plays being blown dead, but the Titans had plenty to gripe about as well. How do you spot a ball two or three yards short of a marker? Why did the officials have to go to replay to see Henry sitting down? The Travis Kelce fumble should’ve been reviewed (but did he recover it)? It wasn’t a great day for the guys in stripes.
Titans fansTitans fans have turned things up a few notches at Nissan Stadium, and they took the show on the road to Kansas City. The city was loaded with Titans fans, and they showed up in big numbers at Arrowhead Stadium as well and made some noise. The city has a Titans buzz we haven’t seen in a while. Now, everyone would like to see it amped up even more.