After becoming the second team in the Super Bowl era to start a season with four games without a turnover, the Tennessee Titans turned the ball over before the offense even took the field—losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 26-17 Sunday at LP Field. The Titans fell to 3-2 with the Seahawks and 49ers next. The Chiefs surged to 5-0.
Kansas City received the opening kickoff, picked up three first downs, but was forced to punt. On the punt the ball came up short, hit the leg of Damian Williams, and bounded into the end zone where it was recovered by the Chiefs’ Marcus Cooper for a touchdown. It was a turnover before the offense ever took the field. When they did take the field early on, it was ugly.
Tennessee went three-and-out on their first five possessions, totaling 15 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick gained a reputation in Buffalo as someone who held the ball too long, could be erratic, and tried to force the ball too much. We saw all of that on Sunday. Fitzpatrick was sacked three times and threw two late interceptions. He was also the leading rusher of the day for the Titans, as Chris Johnson managed only 17 yards on the ground on ten carries, neither number near enough.
Normally when the backup becomes the starter, the offense is somewhat toned down. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball 41 times. Not all of that excess came when Tennessee was trying to get back in it at the
end. Watching Fitzpatrick made the tremendous progress Jake Locker made in only four games all the more clear.
Once the Titans did move the ball, they could not finish. Four tries from the one-yard line accomplished nothing late in the first half. A pair of Jackie Battle efforts bookended what was technically a sack, and a play so bad it is listed as a pass from Fitzpatrick to Fitzpatrick for no gain.
A sure field goal might have changed strategy later for the better, which was a first-guess. There was no field goal attempt then, but there was one in a nine-point game on the last play of the game, which surprised Rob Bironas to the point he missed the kick.
The Titans found themselves at the start of the second half, scoring on three straight possessions. A beautiful piece of creativity from Fitzpatrick gave Johnson the chance for a 49-yard touchdown catch and run to put Tennessee on the board. By the time Bironas had made a field goal, and Fitzpatrick had scrambled in from the 9, the Titans had the lead 17-13 eight seconds into the fourth quarter. It all went downhill from there. Tennessee had another three-and-out, followed by the two interceptions before the stats grab leading to the embarrassing field goal fiasco at the end.
Kansas City simply took advantage. They have been unspectacular in going 5-0, but they have been fundamentally sound and not let one thing get by them. A great coach only in need of a change of scenery in Andy Reid, and a quality QB needing fewer athletic requirements put on him in Alex Smith have meshed beautifully for a team that had six Pro Bowlers on a 2-14 team a year ago. Jamaal Charles rushed for 108 yards and the winning touchdown from the one with 6:23 left. Joined by Denver and New Orleans as the league’s only 5-0 squads, they now have three straight at home. A true Cinderella story is emerging in KC.