Marcus Mariota did everything he could to help the Titans advance in the playoffs Braden Smith Colts Jersey , throwing a crazy touchdown pass to himself , running for crucial first downs and providing the kind of spark that Tennessee needed to rally from a 21-3 halftime hole.
Heck, he even threw a crucial block on the run that clinched the game.
It all added up to a heart-stopping 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, the first postseason win for the Titans in 14 years and one that will provide some relief – for the week, at least – for embattled coach Mike Mularkey and his remarkable bunch of underdogs.
”Special,” said Mariota, whose 205 yards passing included the go-ahead 22-yard strike to Eric Decker with six minutes left. ”I’m part of a great team. I’m part of a group of guys that really believe in each other. And it’s something special.”
Now, the Titans will find out Sunday whether they’re headed to New England or Pittsburgh next.
Derrick Henry added a career-high 156 yards rushing and another score for Tennessee (10-7), while a defense fileted by Alex Smith and the Chiefs (10-7) in the first half pitched a shutout in the second half – dooming the Kansas City franchise to another humiliating postseason defeat.
The Chiefs haven’t won a home playoff game since January 1994.
”I’m in shock,” Smith said. ”The swing at halftime to the final whistle, definitely a shock. Yeah. Didn’t feel like we played up to how we’re capable of playing and that’s disappointing.
Smith threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns , but most of that came before halftime. He couldn’t get going in the second half and misfired on fourth-and-9 at the Titans 44 with just over two minutes to go, denying the Chiefs a chance for Harrison Butker to kick a go-ahead field goal.
Adding to the depression? Henry appeared to fumble as Tennessee tried to run out the clock.
The Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown with 1:47 to go Frank Ragnow Color Rush Jersey , and the crowd went wild as fireworks shot off over Arrowhead Stadium. But a replay clearly showed Henry down, the call was overturned and Tennessee succeeded in running out the clock. Mariota threw a block that helped spring Henry for a 22-yard gain on third-and 10 late that helped finish off the comeback.
”Grit. It’s just grit,” Henry said. ”We told them we’ve got 30 minutes left, all we’ve got to do is play our game. Execute the plays and everything will take care of itself.”
In the first half, the Chiefs looked every bit the team that had won four straight in convincing fashion, and the Titans looked every bit the team that backed into the playoffs.
Kareem Hunt, the league’s top rusher this season , plunged in from 1 yard for a 7-0 lead. Smith hit Travis Kelce, who later left with a concussion, with a 13-yard touchdown pass. And he added another TD toss to Demarcus Robinson on the final offensive play for a 21-3 lead at the break.
”We were feeling good,” Johnson said. ”We came in 21-3 and that’s all we were talking about: `Finish. Don’t get complacent. We have bigger goals than this game.”’
But it was the Titans who finished, and it was Mariota who led the way. He capped a 91-yard TD drive to start the second half in the bizarre fashions: Mariota threw a TD pass to himself.
His throw to the end zone was batted right back at him by Darrelle Revis, and Mariota hauled it in and dived for the goal line. It was the first time a player has thrown a TD pass to himself in the playoffs Broncos DaeSean Hamilton Jersey , and the first time in any game since the Vikings’ Brad Johnson during the 1997 season.
”Right place, right time,” Mariota said with a smile.
Tennessee nearly squandered its momentum when Adoree Jackson fumbled a punt, but the Chiefs were unable to pick up a first down and Butker knocked a 48-yard field goal off the upright. And the Titans capitalized when Henry rumbled nearly untouched 35 yards for a touchdown a few minutes later.
The Chiefs’ offense had been rendered impotent by that point, unable to move the ball after Kelce left with a concussion in the first half. And the Titans blanketed Tyreek Hill whenever he touched the ball, and they stacked the box to slow Hunt down in obvious rushing situations.
Finally, the Titans pulled ahead on Mariota’s strike to Decker, and that led to more controversy from the officials. Tennessee went for a 2-point conversion and a field-goal edge, Mariota fumbled as he was getting sacked and Frank Zombo scooped up the ball for two points the other way.
But the officials had blown the play dead, ruling Mariota’s progress had been stopped, and the Titans retained the slimmest of margins – one that would stand up to the final whistle.
”I feel really good around our football team,” Mularkey said. ”I know what I’m going to get from them every week. That’s a good feeling, knowing how they’re going to come out Cheap Mike Hughes Jersey , no matter what.”
The Chiefs also complained about the officials blowing their whistles on a play late in the first half, when Mariota fumbled while getting sacked. He clearly lost the ball and the Chiefs picked it up, but the play could not be reviewed. Tennessee wound up kicking a field goal.
Only two other road teams have rallied from at least 18 down to win a playoff game in NFL history. The Cowboys came back from 21-3 in the first half to beat the 49ers 30-28 in December 1972, and the Lions came back from 27-7 in the second half to beat the 49ers in The Chicago Bears are set to sign Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton, giving quarterback Mitchell Trubisky some playmaking targets.
Robinson told ESPN he plans to sign a three-year, $42 million contract, while two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press Tuesday that Burton is leaving the Philadelphia Eagles after agreeing to a $32 million, four-year deal.
Chicago also agreed to a deal with Atlanta Falcons receiver Taylor Gabriel, and Miami Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey also plans to sign with the Bears, people familiar with their situations said.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deals won't be announced until the league year begins Wednesday.
The Bears also extended one-year tenders to receivers Cameron Meredith and Joshua Bellamy along with cornerback Bryce Callahan, giving them the right to match any offers they receive in free agency.
A 2015 Pro Bowl selection, Robinson was impressed by new Bears coach Matt Nagy and told ESPN, "I like what he did" as offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs. Robinson also tweeted "What's good Chicago!!!?" with a picture of himself in a Bulls game jersey on Tuesday.
The Bears were looking to upgrade their struggling receiving corps and give Trubisky more dependable targets.
The versatile Burton gets a chance to be the No. 1 tight end on the Bears after catching 23 passes for 248 yards and five TDs in Philadelphia's championship season. He also threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles in the Eagles' Super Bowl victory over New England.
Robinson had a strong training camp last year and looked like he would be an integral part of the offense. But he tore the ACL in his left knee on Jacksonville's third play of the season and had surgery the following week. The Jaguars went on to win the AFC South and advance to the conference title game.
Robinson has missed 21 games in four seasons Vontaze Burfict Youth Jersey , though Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said at the NFL scouting combine he is "right on schedule" in his recovery from the torn ACL.
A second-round draft pick from Penn State, Robinson has 202 catches for 2,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games. He had 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015, establishing himself as one of the best receivers in franchise history. His production dropped in 2016, with 73 receptions for 883 yards and six scores.
But at 24, he's young and fills a big need for the rebuilding Bears. Chicago's leading receiver last year was Kendall Wright with 59 receptions for 614 yards.
Gabriel had 33 catches for 378 yards and a touchdown last season. He has 132 receptions for 1,819 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons with Atlanta and Cleveland.
The Bears are banking on Trubisky's development to help them end a string of losing seasons. General manager Ryan Pace staked his reputation to the quarterback by trading up a spot with San Francisco last year to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick.
Parkey made 21 of 23 field goals in his lone season with Miami. He worked with new Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor as a member of the Cleveland Browns in 2016, after spending his first two years with the Eagles.
The Bears waived Connor Barth and signed Cairo Santos in November. Santos then suffered a season-ending groin injury, and Mike Nugent finished the season as Chicago's kicker.
The Bears fired coach John Fox after going 5-11 and finishing last in the NFC North for the fourth straight year. The Bears have missed the playoffs 10 of the past 11 seasons and have not finished with a winning record since 2012.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.