The Tennessee Titans opened the 2014 season with a resounding 26-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in what was the most complete performance turned in since 2008, the last time this franchise made the playoffs. This was the kind of effort that could be the blueprint for a potential playoff run.
Jake Locker was precise, completing 22-of-33 for 266 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The running back by committee produced 148 yards on 32 carries with Shonn Greene leading the way with 71 on 15. The defense was athletic and opportunistic snatching three interceptions, getting four sacks, and taking the Chiefs out of their offense allowing only 245 total yards on the afternoon.
While there are clearly things to work on, you can never be anything but happy with any win, especially an emphatic one on the road over a team that sees itself as a Super Bowl contender. Locker still needs to be more decisive. He was sacked four times and chose (or was forced) to run six times. Then there are the penalties—a whopping 12 for 110 yards that led to three first downs and the only touchdown drive of the day. Sure the rules have gotten harder as the game has gotten softer, but everyone knows what will and will not be called out there.
But the Titans certainly accomplished their goals for the game. Jake Locker stayed on the field, and led and prospered with eight different receivers making a catch. The defense flew around the ball, with Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles managing only 34 yards of offense, getting only 11 touches. Jason McCourty intercepted two passes as Blidi Wreh-Wilson held up well on the other side. New kicker Ryan Succop went 4-4 on FGs just as he did for the Chiefs against the Titans last season.
“I don’t think anybody gave us a chance to do it,” Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Our guys believed in what we are doing, and it was a team effort out there today. That’s what I am most proud about. The fact that we had a clear plan of what we wanted to do here, and we executed it very well enough to win in a tough situation. That speaks volumes for our first game on the road in Kansas City.”
“The noise, the situation—we didn’t get into the rhythm we wanted to as early as we wanted to,” Locker said. “We found it in the second quarter and were able to put some points on the board.”
Next are the Dallas Cowboys, coming off a 28-17 defeat by the 49ers, in the home opener. The Cowboys have finished 8-8 three straight seasons. With the loss of Sean Lee for the season on defense, they certainly do not figure for much more this season. This game is an opportunity, and with road games in Cincinnati and Indianapolis the next two weeks, it is an opportunity they cannot miss.