But they didn't let it affect them. Kansas City made it 14-0 when quarterback Alex Smith hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 13-yard score.
But the Titans squandered a chance to chop into the lead midway through the second quarter, when Mariota was intercepted by Marcus Peters at the 9 on a pass intended for Delanie Walker. They absorbed what turned out to be a massive blow on that last drive, when Kelce was knocked from the game on a helmet-to-helmet hit. His absence changed the game. The Chiefs finished the drive with a touchdown. But as has been the case for the duration of Mularkey's two-year tenure as Titans head coach, his team did not quit in a game where many would. At the end of the Titans' opening drive of the second half, Mariota attempted pass on third-and-goal from the Chiefs' 6-yard line. No one could hardly believe it. They could only muster negative-two yards on three plays, and their long field goal attempt was shanked off the left upright by Harrison Butker.
The Titans scored again early in the fourth when running back Derrick Henry raced 35 yards for a touchdown.
There is a sizeable fire blazing in a wooded area across the street from Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs are leading the Titans 21-10 late in the third quarter.
Kareem Hunt carried just 11 times for 42 yards and the opening touchdown.
Mariota leads the National Football League this season with five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. Hunt's 1-yard score capped a six-play 81-yard drive. But the officials ruled the play was over, it could not be reviewed and the Titans had time for a field goal that wound up being crucial in a game where every point mattered.
Perhaps even end Smith's career with the Chiefs. Now, Dorsey is the Cleveland Browns GM and knows exactly what Smith could bring to the franchise, the sort of stability at the game's most important position to help bring a perennial cellar-dweller out of the doldrums of the AFC North.More news: Helena Bonham Carter Tipped to Play Princess Margaret in 'The Crown'
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Lucky for Mariota, the ball was batted down right in front of him.
Tennessee got the ball back with 2:09 left in the game.
The final frustration came as the Titans were trying to run out the clock. The Chiefs returned the fumble for a touchdown, but it was easily overturned.
The Chiefs still led 21-10 at that point, but the offense had gone cold.
Kelce didn't return to the game and the Chiefs struggled offensively in the second half. It was just a bit more important this time around.
The Titans will look ahead to the divisional round, where they will face off against either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the New England Patriots. Anything is possible with Mariota, Henry and the defense playing this well.