Ryan Tannehill Leads Game-Winning Drive as Titans Stun Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2019

Ryan Tannehill, quarterback de los Titans de Tennessee, festeja luego de lograr una conversión de dos puntos ante los Chiefs de Kansas City, el domingo 10 de noviembre de 2019 (AP Foto/James Kenney)
James Kenney/Associated Press

The Tennessee Titans earned a 35-32 home win Sunday over the Kansas City Chiefs at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

The Titans blocked Harrison Butker's 52-yard field-goal attempt as time expired to preserve the victory.

Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes returned after missing Kansas City's last two games with an ankle injury.

"We knew how we've been doing the whole process of the injury," he told reporters Friday. "I knew I had a chance once I talked to all those doctors, and they said that as long as I was functioning well, moving well, that I could play this week."

The Chiefs gained 530 yards of offense, but it wasn't enough as the defense continued to be a problem. Ryan Tannehill only needed four plays to lead the Titans 61 yards down the field for the go-ahead score, a 23-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries.

Kansas City has now dropped four of its last six games following a 4-0 start and is a half-game ahead of the Oakland Raiders for first place in the AFC West.

          

Notable Performers

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs: 36-of-50, 446 yards, three touchdowns
  • Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs: 19 carries, 77 yards; five catches, 32 yards
  • Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: 11 catches, 157 yards, one touchdown
  • Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: seven receptions, 75 yards, one touchdown
  • Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans: 13-of-19, 181 yards, two touchdowns
  • Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: 23 carries, 188 yards, two touchdowns; two catches, three yards
  • Anthony Firkser, TE, Titans: three receptions, 36 yards, one touchdown

           

Henry's Big Day Sets Stage for Comeback

Henry averaged 8.2 yards per carry, and it feels like that number is somehow lower than you expected. Tennessee's only means of attack was putting it in the hands of the fourth-year running back.

Henry's 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was a perfect example of the Chiefs defense in action. Tennessee's offensive line opened a huge running lane for Henry, who cut back and eluded one would-be tackler en route to the end zone. 

Because of his frame (6'3" and 247 pounds), it's easy to typecast Henry as a power back who gets four and five yards at a time. Following a somewhat underwhelming start to his career, he's showing himself to be a dynamic home run threat too.

When the game hanged in the balance, the Titans turned to Tannehill—not Henry—and the former Miami Dolphins quarterback delivered. He ran for 18 yards on first down and then found Anthony Firkser for a 20-yard completion before the pivotal throw to Humphries.

The Titans are now 3-1 with Tannehill as the starter. Beyond validating Mike Vrabel's decision to bench Marcus Mariota, the veteran passer is making a case to be a No. 1 option in 2020 either with the Titans or another team—he's a free agent in the offseason.

At 5-5, Tennessee still needs a lot to break right in order to claim a division crown, but the team is fighting its way back into the AFC wild-card race.

          

Defense Unravels as Mahomes Doesn't Miss a Beat in Return

Before his ankle injury became bad enough to take him off the field, Mahomes wasn't playing like his usual self. In particular, his mobility was limited and he couldn't put the same kind of power on his throws he normally would have at 100 percent.

The obvious fear was that Mahomes was perhaps getting back before he was truly ready and thus would continue to struggle compared to the level of performance he enjoyed in 2018.

Those concerns quickly faded as the Chiefs scored a touchdown on the opening drive. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce with a shovel pass for a three-yard score. 

In general, Mahomes was excellent.

As good as the offense played, the defense was just about as bad—at least when it came to the running game. Henry had a field day against a unit that was allowing 139.6 yards per game.

When the Titans got the ball back with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter, a touchdown was entirely predictable. Kansas City forced a turnover on downs on Tennessee's previous possession but had regularly been carved up earlier in the game.

It's hard to have any real confidence in the Chiefs defense when it comes to the team's overall viability as a Super Bowl contender.

          

What's Next?

The Titans have next week off and will be back in action Nov. 24 when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs head to Mexico City in Week 11, where they'll meet the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 18.

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