Derrick Henry leads Titans over Kansas City, advance to divisional round

-Zack Marseglia

 

The Titans and Chiefs squared off at Arrowhead Stadium for the first playoff game of the year. If this game was any indication of how the rest of the playoffs will shake out, be prepared for some wild games.

The Chiefs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead after the first quarter and looked as dominant as they had to open the season. On the Chiefs second drive of the day, Alex Smith threw a short pass to Tyreek Hill, who took it 45 yards before being pushed out at the 29-yard line. Two plays later, rookie sensation Kareem Hunt punched it in from a yard out to open the scoring. On the next Chiefs drive, Alex Smith lead the charge down the field, with a 26-yard pass play to Tyreek Hill. Smith capped off the drive with a 13-yard strike to Travis Kelce to push the lead to 14-0.

As good as the Chiefs offense looked, their defense looked even more dominant. The Titans offense mustered 11 plays for 34 yards in the first quarter, and their next drive resulted in an interception by reigning AFC Defensive Rookie of the year Marcus Peters. Late in the second quarter, Mariota led the Titans down the field on an 8 play 48-yard drive that ended with a Ryan Succop field goal to put the Titans on the board. The Chiefs however were led by Alex Smith for another touchdown pass, pushing the Chiefs lead to 21-3, and the game appeared to be getting out of hand.

Coming into the second half down 21-3, the Titans needed to get on the board to claw their way back in. Led by the massive 247 pound running back Derrick Henry, the Titans found life. Henry accounted for 52 yards on the Titans opening drive of the second half, which ended in one the wildest plays of the year. In his first ever playoff game, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw his first playoff touchdown pass to himself. Mariota’s pass got batted as he ran outside the pocket, only for it to come right back to him. His touchdown cut the lead to 21-10 and gave the Titans hope.

As the Titans defense forced a three and out on the Chiefs next possession, rookie corner Adoree Jackson muffed the punt and put the Chiefs in great field position. The drive yielded no points however, as Harrison Butker missed the field goal.

Derrick Henry again led the Titans offense down the field, capping off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run, and cut the lead to 21-16. Another stop by the Titans defense opened the door for Henry and Co. to take their first lead of the game. Mariota and Henry lead the Titans on an 11 play, 80-yard drive, courtesy of a 22-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker, and Mariota’s first playoff touchdown pass to someone other than himself. And was it a big one. The Titans however, needed one final defensive stand to leave Arrowhead with the win. The Titans held the Chiefs to 29 yards on their final drive, which ended on an incomplete pass from Alex Smith on fourth down to seal the game.

Derrick Henry led the way with 156 yards rushing and a touchdown, while the Titans scored 19 unanswered points, and pitched a second half shutout of the Chiefs. The Chiefs finish their season at 10-7, while the Titans advance to the Divisional Round, where they will take on the Steelers or the Patriots.

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