Mariota, Titans rally past Chiefs
Tennessee quarterback catches own touchdown pass in 22-21 win
By DAVE SKRETTA, The Associated Press.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Marcus Mariota did just about everything to help the Tennessee Titans advance in the playoffs.
That includes catching one of his own touchdown passes.
Mariota also threw for a more traditional score and provided some key runs as the Titans rallied from 18 points down to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 on Saturday in an AFC wild-card game.
“I’m part of a great team,” said Mariota, whose 205 passing yards included a go-ahead 22-yard strike to Eric Decker with just over six minutes left. “I’m part of a group of guys that really believe in each other. And it’s something special.”
Mariota capped a 91-yard touchdown drive to start the second half with a scoring pass to himself.
The 24-year-old from Honolulu threw to the end zone, but the ball was batted right back at him by Darrelle Revis. Mariota hauled it in and dived for the goal line. It was the first time a player has thrown a touchdown pass to himself in the playoffs, and the first time it happened in any game since the Minnesota Vikings’ Brad Johnson did so during the 1997 season.
“Right place, right time,” Mariota said with a smile.
After Decker’s score, Tennessee went for a 2-point conversion. Mariota fumbled as he was getting sacked and Frank Zombo scooped up the ball and returned it for what have been two points the other way, but officials had blown the play dead, ruling Mariota’s progress had been stopped.
The Titans (10-7) will play on the road against the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.
Tennessee’s Derrick Henry ran for a career-best 156 yards with a touchdown. Mariota gained 46 yards on eight carries, and the Titans finished with 202 yards on the ground.
Henry was initially ruled to have fumbled on a play as Tennessee tried to run out the clock. Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown with 1:47 to go, but a replay review clearly showed Henry down, the call was overturned and the Titans succeeded in running out the clock and earning their first postseason win in 14 years.
The Chiefs (10-7) led 21-3 at halftime after Alex Smith threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson on the final offensive play of the second quarter.
“I’m in shock,” Smith said. “The swing at halftime to the final whistle, definitely a shock.”
Only other two road teams had rallied from at least 18 down to win a playoff game in NFL history. The Dallas Cowboys came back after trailing 21-3 in the first half to beat the San Francisco 49ers 30-28 in December 1972, and the Detroit Lions rallied from a 27-7 deficit in the second half to beat the 49ers in December 1957.
The Titans’ field goal in the first half came on a drive during which the Chiefs also complained about officials blowing their whistles on a play. Mariota clearly fumbled while getting sacked, and Kansas City picked up the ball, but the play could not be reviewed.
Smith threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Kareem Hunt, the league’s top rusher in the regular season, ran for 42 yards and a score.
The Chiefs’ Travis Kelce caught a touchdown pass before leaving later in the game with a concussion.
Tennessee 0 3 7 12–22
Kansas City 14 7 0 0–21
KC–Hunt 1 run (Butker kick), 7:37.
KC–Kelce 13 pass from A.Smith (Butker kick), 2:15.
Ten–FG Succop 49, 1:55.
KC–Robinson 14 pass from A.Smith (Butker kick), :03.
Ten–Mariota 6 pass from Mariota (Succop kick), 6:31.
Ten–Henry 35 run (pass failed), 14:08.
Ten–Decker 22 pass from Mariota (pass failed), 6:06.
First downs 23 19
Total Net Yards 397 325
Rushes-yards 31-202 16-69
Passing 195 256
Punt Returns 3-18 2-8
Kickoff Returns 3-55 4-83
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-28
Comp-Att-Int 19-31-1 24-33-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-10 4-8
Punts 3-43.7 5-50.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-50 8-68
Time of Possession 32:28 27:32
RUSHING–Tennessee, Henry 23-156, Mariota 8-46. Kansas City, Hunt 11-42, Hill 1-14, A.Smith 4-13.
PASSING–Tennessee, Mariota 19-31-1-205. Kansas City, A.Smith 24-33-0-264.
RECEIVING–Tennessee, Walker 6-74, Davis 4-35, Henry 2-35, Decker 2-21, J.Smith 2-15, Matthews 1-15, Mariota 1-6, Taylor 1-4. Kansas City, Hill 7-87, Kelce 4-66, Robinson 4-57, Hunt 3-5, A.Wilson 2-26, Harris 2-22, West 2-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS–Kansas City, Butker 48.
All times HST
AFC: Tennessee 22, Kansas City 21
NFC: Atlanta 26, L.A. Rams 13
AFC: Buffalo at Jacksonville, 8:05 a.m. (CBS)
NFC: Carolina at New Orleans, 11:40 a.m. (FOX)
Saturday, Jan. 13
NFC: Atlanta at Philadelphia, 11:35 a.m. (NBC)
AFC: Tennessee or Buffalo at New England, 3:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 14
AFC: Jacksonville or Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 8:05 a.m. (CBS)
NFC: New Orleans-Carolina winner at Minnesota, 11:40 a.m. (FOX)