Titans ice Chiefs with second half comeback

Monday, December 17, 2007 at 12:57am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the bitter cold of Arrowhead Stadium, the Tennessee Titans refused to allow their playoff hopes to be put on ice Sunday.

The Titans played through poor field conditions on a field that was partially frozen and partially mud and rallied for a 26-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The victory pushes the Titans to 8-6, leaving them one game behind Cleveland for the final AFC wild-card playoff berth. The 9-5 Browns also could still win the AFC North, possibly pitting the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Titans for that final postseason spot.

“We’re fighting for our lives right now. We’re just trying to stay in the mix,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “If we can just win one more and then another one after that we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Tennessee is the only team still alive in the AFC playoff chase that would not currently have a postseason berth, and needs a team ahead of them in the chase to lose at least once.

The Titans managed to stay alive despite not recording any sacks, allowing the lowly Chiefs to convert 11 of 17 third-down tries, converting just 3 of 11 third-down tries themselves and scoring a touchdown on just 1 of 5 visits to the red zone.

The Titans found themselves trailing 14-10 after a sluggish first half, with Kansas City’s two touchdowns coming on passes from Brodie Croyle to Sammie Parker of 10 yards and Kris Wilson from 9 yards out. On both touchdown passes, Chiefs receivers were able to dodge Titans tacklers to reach the end zone.

Parker got away from Calvin Lowry, who slipped while trying to catch him. Wilson bowled over Vincent Fuller, Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin on his way to scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

“I just missed the tackle; that’s all there is. I’ve got to do my job on that play,” said Fuller, who injured his shoulder on the play.

It was that kind of game for the Titans, whose defense was hampered somewhat by the unsteady field conditions.

“The defense is at a definite disadvantage in this type of game, because the offense knows where they’re going and the type of route they’re running,” linebacker Ryan Fowler said. “You’re trying to react and get your footing and break on the ball, and you’re at a definite disadvantage.”

Disadvantage or not, the Titans had two quarters remaining or they would have faced playoff extinction.

“At halftime, some of the leaders and myself gather around and talked about picking up the tempo and to win the game because it was right there for us,” quarterback Vince Young said.

Young took matters into his own hands after an exchange of field goals had the Chiefs clinging to a 17-13 edge late in the third quarter.

Young pump-faked a flanker screen pass, and the Chiefs bit on the fake. Young then hit Roydell Williams in stride on a deep ball down the sidelines for a 41-yard touchdown that gave the Titans a 20-17 lead, one they would not relinquish.

“We saw that their guys were biting pretty hard on that, and with the speed that Roydell has, we just got the ball out to him,” said Young, who finished 16 of 26 for 191 yards and two touchdowns, but most importantly no interceptions.

From there, the Titans would tack on two more Rob Bironas field goals of 40 and 25 yards to take a nine-point advantage.

When linebacker David Thornton intercepted Croyle with 4:25 to play, the Tennessee was able to finish off its comeback, using the run game to finish off the Chiefs and to live another week in the playoff hunt.

“The quarterback was clearly looking at [Tony] Gonzalez. They wanted to get the ball to their playmaker. I just took my zone drop, and he threw it right to me,” Thornton said. “I was thinking six, and then I was thinking ball security, and letting the offense seal the game and let’s get out of here and go home.”

The Titans return home Sunday to face the New York Jets in another must-win situation before closing the regular season at Indianapolis.

After winning in the cold of Kansas City, the Titans playoff hopes are beginning to heat up.

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By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good second half, VY played much better. We need to play for 60 minutes these next two games.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Both these last games are "must-win". The Titans cannot let up for one minute these next two games, and they need to see faltering by the Steelers or the Browns.What do we all think of the Redskins' beating the Giants? Or the Jaguars' beating the Steelers?It's going to be especially difficult to make the playoffs. Both the Steelers & Browns have easier games than the Titans'.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I would not concern myself with the playoffs. I think the fact that this team has won 8 games with two games left to play is a testament to the grit that this team has. Even if they only win one out of the next two it will meant an above .500 record. For this franchise that alone is a basis for atonement and rejoicing. The Titans have exceeded the expectations of most people already...They don't have a .500 team over the last four years but then they haven't had a winning season either. Go Titans!

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Frank, of course you would not concern yourself with the playoffs, that would be a positive thing, and we all know you can't go there.

By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 6:00

VY is improving, finally. No interceptions! The rushing game was so-so; a measly 93 yards for Lendale White. We're so used to 100 ypg stats that anything less isn't good enough, I suppose.And without Haynesworth, so there were no sacks.Of course, the Pats whipped the Jets, so we're getting a very cross team in here Sunday. For the last home game...everyone should be there. Right, Frank?;D

By: Rocket99 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

All the fair weather fans that haven't been there for the past few games need to just give up their PSLs. There's supposedly plenty of people waiting to snatch them up.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titan1, I deal with reality not fantasy.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Frank, as long as there is still a shot, then it is not fantasy. I'll bet you were one of the ones in 1999 who left before the Music City Miracle and heard the roar of the crowd form the bridge or parking lot.

By: Rocket99 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The reality is the team still has a chance to make the playoffs. Another reality is that, even though it's a sellout, LP Field will probably only be about half full because of all the negative thinkers that have tickets and gave up on the team after the first few games.The fans need to show their support for the team and show up for the game. That can make the difference between winning and loosing a game.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titan1,I heard the roar and watched the rerun on the "BIG SCREEN" from the parking lot. The fact that realist like me were on the bridge or in the parking lot is the reason they call it the "music city miracle" 99.9% of the other times I gave up early I was right on the money....When a team or an event ceases to entertain me I leave for another venue. My life evolves around what life can do for me not what I can do for life. (The same attitude the boys on Wall Street and our National government leaders have.)

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They beat a team they were supposed to beat plain and simple. The running game is still, "let's hope LenWhale can wear them down by the 4th quarter" which he can't, he usually wears down and the passing game is inconsistent week to week. They need alot of help to get in the playoffs. Last year they got all the help they needed but couldn't beat a team that was going to the playoffs and had nothing to really play for, at home. The exact scenario they are in this year except this year they close out at Indy. I would not get my hopes up that Indy will just rest their starters for the playoffs, they have a bye and would probably like to keep them sharp for the 1st round of the playoffs. I'm not pessimistic just realistic, the playoffs are a long shot.If the weather is bad/cold on Sunday I would expect to see alot of fans dressed as empty seats at LP Field.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I must admit I didn't "stick it out" and watch the second half yesterday. Shame on me! I have high blood pressure & just didn't need to get all worked up again like last week, after all the red zone stall outs once again, especially the interception on their 22yd line and we end up on the 27 after three and out. I was listening from the PC room and my stepson was giving me updates. I have to give them props for pulling out of their funk and winning the game. Did they shove Fisher into a locker and lock it at half time, so someone else could call some sensible plays for the second half, or did they just zap him continually with a tazer during the game so he was completely incoherent, and he accidentally called some plays that make sense? I'm glad they won and I hope they can somehow still get to the post season, but I still see the same sorry play calling and the same "coast mode" after they went up 7-0 on both sides of the ball. All coaching, or the lack thereof.

By: jwk6179 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Based on what I've read on several other sites and from the Tennessean, it is my understanding that the Titans only make the playoffs if Cincinnati beats the Browns this week and both Jacksonville and Pittsburgh lose both of their remaining games. A win by any of these teams on Sunday knocks the Titans out of the play-offs.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

cowboy84, well spoken as usual, even if you are a cowboys fan. I, like yourself, seriously doubt Dungy is willing to just lay down and let us have our way with them, no matter what the playoff scenario. Ours is a pretty intense reivalry, and I think he has too much pride for that. They want to beat us any chance they get. The game may not mean anything to them as far as their seeding, but I'm sure they would enjoy knocking us out of the playoffs just the same. Having said all of that, if Haynesworth is healthy for that game (which isn't looking good)I see no reason we shouldn't have a good shot at beating them. By the way - did you see the close up of Jessica Simpson in the suite during the Cowboys game yesterday - definitely doesn't suck to be Romo! He's got a good lookin' shoulder to cry on when he gets home!

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

jwk6179, Pittsburgh or Cleveland will be a division winner. Jacksonville has the top wildcard locked up. Cleveland will I believe have to lose both of their remaining games giving the division title to Pittsburgh, and we would then have to win out to get in.

By: jwk6179 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I have re-read the play-off scenerios and too many things have to happen for the Titans to make the play-offs, including the Titans winning their two remaining games, Jacksonville MUST LOSE the two remaining game (one of which is against the Raiders, a team that has given up for the year), the Steelers MUST lose to the Ravens (another team that has given up for the year) and Cleveland MUST lose to Cincinnati (yet another team that has given up for the year). It is still possible for the Titans to make the play-off, but not very probable.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This is from a friend of mine at the TOMB who really researches this stuff. It looks like our easiest way is for Cleveland to lose to Cincy and we win our last two."Ok, recap time (and I added a wrinkle)...To reach the playoffs, the Titans have to win out AND one of the following has to happen:1. Cleveland loses to Cincy2. Pittsburgh loses to Baltimore AND Cleveland does not tie by losing to San Fran AND Titans keep SOV lead3. Pittsburgh loses to both St. Louis and Baltimore4. Jacksonville loses to both Oakland and Houston"

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Your first statement is factual, thus “real”, Rocket. Your second “reality” is still mere speculation. Let’s stick to facts: The Titans need to win both games & have the Browns or Steelers lose both games. There are faint, strength-of-victory possibilities if the Titans tie w/ the Browns or Steelers, but it would be much easier if one of these teams loses both games. Jwk, the Jaguars no longer matter. Titan, thanks for the delineation.Anyone w/ tickets should go to the game on Sunday. I’ll be working. It’s the Titans’ home finale. That matters. GO.Junebug, what’s a PC room?

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Though I am not a fan, per se, of the Titans; what harm is done by cheering the Titans on and supporting the them as they attempt to overcome a less than stellar year and try to make it into the playoffs? All taxpayer arguments aside, it appears to me that since we have them and it does not look like they are relocating elsewhere anytime in the foreseeable future; what harm is there is putting aside the petty, snotty remarks and bickering? If for nothing else, if they win without ghetto knuckleheads such as Adam "Punkass" Jones then that is a very, very good thing for professional athletes and professional sports.“LET'S GO TITANS; LETS GO! LET'S GO TITANS; LET'S GO! ALL THE WAY TITANS, ALL THE WAY! ALL THE WAY TITANS, ALL THE WAY!!”

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

MJB, Sorry, "PC room" is my "lazy slang" for the room in which my personal computer resides. In my defense, my posts are always way too long, thanks to my apparently genetic verbal diarrhea, so I try to abbreviate whenever possible to shorten them somewhat.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Junebug, I thought that that might be it, but I was hoping for something racier. Your logorrhea is welcome, particularly compared w/ the remarks of some others.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thanks, MJB. I try not to be too harsh, doesn't always work out that way. As gdiafante so eloquently stated, I do catch myself "whining" sometimes.Merry Christmas to all...