The Titans fell to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, 35-24, after struggling to keep up with the Chiefs explosive offense in the second half. Derrick Henry has been the Titans main source of offense throughout the playoffs though he did not have a great game on Sunday. Henry had a few good runs but ultimately did not get the volume he normally gets because the Titans had to play from behind in the second half.
Here are some key stats from the game: (ESPN.com)
QB Ryan Tannehill: 21/31 209 yards 2 TD 0 INT
RB Derrick Henry: 19 CAR 69 yards 1 TD
WR Corey Davis: 5 REC 65 yards 8 targets
WR AJ Brown: 3 REC 51 yards 6 targets
WR Adam Humphries: 4 REC 25 yards 5 targets
TE Jonnu Smith: 3 REC 38 yards 4 targets
TE Anthony Firkser: 1 REC 22 yards 1 TD
OT Dennis Kelly: 1 REC 1 yard 1 TD
LB Kamalei Correa: 10 TOT 6 SOLO 1 SACK 1 TFL 1 QB HIT
CB Logan Ryan: 6 TOT 5 SOLO 1 TFL
1st downs: 20
3rd down efficiency: 3/10
Passing yards: 210
Rushing yards: 85
Total yards: 295
QB Patrick Mahomes: 23/35 294 yards 3 TD 0 INT 8 CAR 53 yards 1 TD
RB Damien Williams: 17 CAR 45 yards 1 TD 5 REC 44 yards
WR Sammy Watkins: 7 REC 114 yards 1 TD 10 targets LONG 60
WR Tyreek Hill: 5 REC 67 yards 2 TD
S Tyrann Mathieu: 9 TOT 6 SOLO 1 TFL 1 PD
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon: 2 TOT 2 SOLO 2 SACK 2 FL
1st downs: 27
3rd down efficiency: 6/10
Passing yards: 292
Rushing yards: 112
Total yards: 404
This game did not end favorably for the Titans, one of the biggest reasons being the lack of a run game. The run game started well though Henry finished the game with just 19 carries, which is the least he has had in a game since week 14 in Oakland. Despite having just 69 yards on the ground, Henry had some good runs. The thing he lacked was big runs of 10 or more yards. Henry had less volume because the Titans had to play from behind during the second half. The offensive line played an OK game though they were not helping out Henry has much as they often do.
One of the biggest problems with the offensive line was their penalties. Jack Conklin was penalized twice and Nate Davis once. Conklin's first penalty was ridiculous but the Titans must avoid penalties like this regardless. These holds were very costly to the Titans and they were complete drive killers. One of the most irritating parts of this game was the officiating. It did not cost the Titans the game but it was terrible in many cases. In addition to the holds, the refs were extremely inconsistent in calling pass interference. I will cover these botched calls at a different time.
One positive of the Titans offense was that the receivers were involved. Ryan Tannehill has done a good job of spreading the ball around since he took over at Quarterback though receivers have not been a factor in the playoffs. Corey Davis, AJ Brown, and Adam Humprhries, combined for 12 receptions. All the receivers played well throughout the game. Davis made multiple good catches and used his strength. Brown had a great run after catch play and made a couple clutch catches. Humphries was arguably the best receiver that game because he made very important catches on 3rd down.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans defense had trouble stopping Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes did not have the stats that Lamar Jackson had last week though he was more effective. The loss came because the Chiefs avoided turnovers unlike the Ravens. The Ravens had many mistakes that the Titans capitalized on while the Chiefs played a near flawless game. Mahomes had far too much time on the pocket and it seemed that he could find an open receiver every time. At one point Mahomes had nearly 10 seconds in the pocket and managed to find a receiver. The pass rush was extremely poor and it will be a point of emphasis during the offseason.
Poor tackling was another main cause of the Titans loss. Patrick Mahomes rushed for a 27 yard touchdown which showcased the Titans horrific tackling. The linebackers had a pretty poor game, likely because of injuries. Both Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans were banged up and have been injured on multiple occasions throughout the seasons. Kamalei Correa stepped up and had another great game but it was not enough for the Titans defense.
I like the trickery throughout the game on both offense and special teams. Coach Mike Vrabel has done a good job of this and he has gotten many different players involved. Last week, Marcus Mariota took a few snaps and Derrick Henry threw a touchdown pass. This week, Dennis Kelly caught a touchdown (making him the heaviest player in NFL history to catch a touchdown pass in the playoffs), Marcus Mariota ran the ball, and the Titans had a
successful fake punt. I really like this and it is something the Titans can build on in the future.
The Titans avoided turnovers, which was huge, but so did the Chiefs. The Chiefs avoided any big mistakes which is why they may win the Super Bowl. The Titans special teams did a good job of containing Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill though the special teams did not make any big plays. I was pleasantly surprised that Greg Joseph made his first field goal as a Titan but that is now trivial.
This is a very sad end to the season but the Titans had an extremely successful season. At 2-4, many thought the season was over but Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and the Titans, fought back. This seasons was up and down but it was ultimately rewarding. I will write much more about things like pass interference, Mike Vrabel, free agents, and more in the coming days and weeks. It was a great season, #TitanUp.