If Tennessee is to win its first playoff game in nearly a decade, it needs to get more from its offense.
The Titans were down 21-3 in the third quarter of their away wildcard game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night when Mariota launched the comeback march by catching his own pass. Maybe Andy Reid should have to worry about his job more than Smith, but the odds of Reid being out of the job or less likely, though this playoff loss had more to do with coaching than anything.
You could write epic poetry about the season the just had, dragging your reader through dizzying highs, puzzling lows and briefly renewed hope to a devastating, surprise ending. "We are crushed, yeah". In the second quarter the Titans finally started to get things going but a failure by Corey Davis to run a clearout route allowed Marcus Peters to make an interception.
'Special, ' said Mariota, whose 205 yards passing included the go-ahead 22-yard strike to Eric Decker with six minutes left. The two-point conversion failed, and the Chiefs' (10-7) bid for some late magic came up shy.
"Grit. It's just grit", Henry said. "Give credit to Marcus". All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce left with a concussion in the first half and big defensive tackle Chris Jones left with an ankle injury in the second half.
In addition, National Football League rushing leader Kareem Hunt rushed only five times for 16 yards after halftime. When asked who actually called the plays Saturday, Reid's answer raised more questions than answers. It capped a six-play, 81-yard drive that was highlighted by a 45-yard completion from quarterback Alex Smith to receiver Tyreek Hill.
"The sick part about this is it's final", Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, "but the guys that are going back, you have to feel this".
Derrick Henry said "I felt like I played soft." after last weeks win against the Jaguars. They have young talent all over the offense and, with Reid still there, will probably still be pretty good.
Tennessee almost 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.
Derrick Henry added a career-high 156 yards rushing and another score for the Titans.
Eventually the Titans running game expected to be seen all year game to play in the fourth.
It wound up being a crucial call in a game that came down to the wire.
It would be the smartest decision to move Smith out while he's playing at the top of his game because they can get the greatest value out of him. But we are still waiting for the team to even reach the AFC title game.
Shortly thereafter, on third-and-11 and needing a stop, Henry got free on an off-tackle run for a first down at the Kansas City 22-yard line. "There is a real chance Smith, who's set to make $17 million next season, will be dealt for the second time in his career". He had a first-quarter touchdown, but the Chiefs run game ground to a halt. Those second-round picks shouldn't be treated as untouchable, especially in a draft where you're already adding two players in the Top 5. That drive ended with Smith's second touchdown pass, a 14 yarder to Demarcus Robinson.
The Tians cut the lead to 21-10 midway through the third quarter on a freaky play - a six-yard touchdown pass from Mariota, to Mariota.
Making their first playoff appearance since 2008, the Tennessee Titans did not disappoint as they rallied from an 18 point deficit to be the first team in 60 years to rally from down 18 or more points to win a playoff game on the road.