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Titans rally to beat Chiefs in AFC wild card game

07 January 2018, 06:54 | Percy Christensen

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A touchdown before the end of the first half gave the Chiefs a 21-3 lead, and they seemed to be well on their way to a victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Smith completed a couple of short passes and set the Chiefs up with a 1st and 10 from the Titans' 45 yard line.

So when he was asked in a somber postgame news conference whether this was the most disheartening loss of his career, Smith was unequivocal: "Yeah", he said.

With the weight of the Chiefs' past playoff failures now looming large, the Titans again took advantage.

Especially the games at Arrowhead Stadium.

While this one will most likely be remembered for iffy calls by the officials, it incorporated elements of other Chiefs playoff defeats over the years, too.

"Whenever you lose it always hurts, regardless of if it's one point or 20 points". Tennessee went on to with 22-21. "I look forward to playing next week".

"We were feeling good", Johnson said.

Two of those calls came in the first half, starting with this sack on Marcus Mariota.

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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 think for that position [playoff experience] does help", coach Andy Reid said. Eric Decker, who struggled to hold on to the ball in the first half, scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Titans with a little over six minutes remaining in the game.

And the Titans kept blowing chances.

Mariota got on track in the second half, converting two third downs on the 91-yard drive.

Dick LeBeau's defense forced yet another punt on the ensuing Chiefs possession, and the Titans embarked on yet another long scoring drive, this time going 80 yards on 11 plays and ate up just over five minutes of game time. "I know what I'm going to get from them every week. It's not worth it". Eager to melt the clock, the Titans put the ball in Henry's gut.

The Chiefs were briefly given a glimmer of hope in the final two minutes when an apparent Henry fumble was returned for a score by linebacker Derrick Johnson, but reviews revealed the running back was down by contact. The crowd went wild as fireworks popped over Arrowhead Stadium - until replays showed that Henry was down. Henry appeared to fumble as Tennessee tried to run out the clock.

The Titans drove into Chiefs territory midway through the second quarter but Peters intercepted an underthrown pass from Mariota in the red zone, ending the threat.

The result was yet another heartbreak for a franchise that has known its share of them.

The Chiefs seemed to retake the momentum when Tennessee's Adoree' Jackson fumbled the ensuing punt and KC recovered, but three fruitless plays later, rookie kicker Harrison Butker doinked a 48-yard attempt off the left upright - evoking shades of Elliott, who missed a game-winning kick in the waning seconds of a 10-7 loss to Indianapolis in a January 7, 1996 divisional-round game. "Nobody likes losing and this one's for real".

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