KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Titans coach Mike Mularkey simply wanted to win, so he chose to try a 2-point conversion in the closing minutes in Kansas City rather than let Ryan Succop kick the tying …
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Titans coach Mike Mularkey simply wanted to win, so he chose to try a 2-point conversion in the closing minutes in Kansas City rather than let Ryan Succop kick the tying extra point.
Turns out Succop just needed to keep warm a little bit longer.
After the Titans failed on their conversion attempt, they forced the Chiefs to punt the ball back with about a minute left. Marcus Mariota deftly led them into field-goal range, and Succop connected from 53 yards for a 19-17 victory Sunday that kept the Titans tied with Houston atop the AFC South.
“This team won’t quit. Never has,” said Mularkey, whose team has won three straight games for the first time since the 2011 season. “It’s a good locker room.”
Succop, who began his career with Kansas City, actually came up short on his first try at the winner, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid had called a timeout just before the snap. Given a second chance, Succop knocked it through with a couple feet to spare as the Titans poured off the bench to celebrate.
“Kind of backfired,” Reid said sadly.
The Titans (8-6) had rallied from a 17-7 hole, and Derrick Henry’s second touchdown run got them within 17-16 with just over three minutes left. But that’s when Mularkey went for a 2-point conversion and the lead, and Mariota was pressured immediately and his pass never reached the end zone.
But the Chiefs (10-4), who began the day tied with Oakland atop the AFC West, failed to pick up the first down that would have not only clinched the win but also their spot in the playoffs.
The Titans got the ball back, Mariota completed three long passes and Succop did the rest.
“You can sit here and point fingers and all that stuff that bad teams do, or you can fix it,” Reid said of the late-game meltdown, “and I have total trust in this team to do that.”
The dramatic turn of events came after Tennessee squandered plenty of chances early.
Rishard Matthews fumbled within sight of the goal line in the first half, ending the Titans’ streak of four straight games without a turnover. And Mariota, a Hawaii native, had plenty of trouble dealing with the cold weather, fumbling the ball away and throwing an interception to Ron Parker .
Not surprisingly, he credited the Titans defense for shutting out Kansas City in the second half.
“Huge, huge, huge,” Mariota said. “Really just gave us the opportunity at the end.”
It was 1 degree at kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium, with a wind chill of minus-19, making it the coldest game in Kansas City since the franchise began keeping records in 1994.
The Chiefs nevertheless got off to a hot start when Tyreek Hill faked like he was running an option play and took an inside handoff instead, running untouched 68 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.
It was the sixth touchdown for the dynamic rookie in the last four weeks.
Alex Smith added a TD run later in the half, and Cairo Santos knocked through a field goal, but the Chiefs also blew a couple of opportunities. They were repelled twice at the 1-yard line and came away without points, and Smith threw an interception in the end zone early in the second half.
It all came back to haunt them when Succop hit from 39 yards early in the fourth quarter to make it a one-possession game, and Titans got the ball back and marched for a touchdown to get within a point — setting up Succop’s chance to beat the team that cut him a couple years ago.
“I thought we were awful on third down and we didn’t capitalize in the red zone,” Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. “We had an opportunity to put the game away and didn’t get it done.”
The record for coldest game at Arrowhead Stadium had been 9 degrees before Sunday. It was so cold that the fuses in the west scoreboard froze, blanking out a large section of it for much of the game.
Chiefs play Denver on Christmas night.
Titans visit Jacksonville on Saturday.
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