The undefeated Chiefs have made a habit of salting away wins with long fourth-quarter scoring drives this season.
But unlike the last three games, when those drives protected leads, the Chiefs found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter for the first time Sunday against the Titans at LP Field before a 10-play march keyed the Chiefs' 26-17 come-from-behind victory.
"In the fourth quarter, we came out and made it happen, and that's when you've got to stand up and be a real football player and take over," said running back Jamaal Charles, who finished with 22 carries for 108 yards.
Game Recap: Chiefs vs Titans from The Mothership
The Kansas City Chiefs woke up this morning to a steady rainfall and an overcast sky that covered LP Field; hours later, the rain stopped, the Chiefs won the toss and elected to receive.
Alex Smithled the team on a drive that took 3:07 off the game clock, before Chiefs Pro Bowl P Dustin Colquittsent a punt into Titans territory, before it hit a backpedaling Titans player, only to be recovered in the end zone by Chiefs CB Marcus Cooper.
Once Again, Chiefs Turn To Their Defense For The Win from KC Star
Marcus Cooper had been waiting for this all week. He knew it was coming. Or, more accurately, he hoped it would come. The Chiefs' coaches told him that when the Titans bunched three receivers to the right side, his man was probably running an out route and this would be Cooper's chance.
Jump the route.
Make a play.
Push this undefeated season at least one week more.
"All I know is I got my hands on it," he says, "and I wasn't letting go."
Smith had completed just two of his first nine passes, seemed repeatedly to hold the ball too long and had been intercepted on a badly overthrown toss that set up the Titans' go-ahead touchdown.
But as the Chiefs took over with 11:28 left, coach Andy Reid said, "the eyes that I'm looking into are positive eyes. ... That was my picture. That's what I'm looking at."
No one's eyes were more alive, or more significant, than Smith's.
And sometimes those intangibles matter as much or more than the tangibles or the spectacular moments.
But on Sunday, despite facing a Chiefs defense that had allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game in the NFL, Johnson finished with only 17 yards in 10 carries, his lowest rushing output in over a year.
"I don't think it was them - I think it was us," Johnson said after the Titans' 26-17 loss to the Chiefs. "A lot of mistakes were made."
As you might imagine, the Chiefs would beg to differ.
By the way Jamaal Charles ran and cut and carried the load (again) on Sunday, it might have been easy for the casual observer to overlook the quiet pain he was playing through.
The blisters on his toes that plagued him a week ago were still present in the Chiefs' 26-17 win over the Titans, despite the considerable amount of time he apparently spent soaking them this week in a wide variety of concoctions.
Yet Charles again toughed it out, rushing for a season-high 108 yards on 22 carries while also catching five passes for 37 yards.
"(Long snapper) Thomas (Gafford) and (holder) Dustin (Colquitt) do such a great job, so big hat's off to them," Succop said. "It was a tough day. It was wet and kind of windy, but they did a good job snapping and holding for me."
Succop, who is 10 for 12 on the year, also hit four field goals in a win at Philadelphia.
None, of course, were bigger than the 48-yarder with 2:12 remaining, which gave the Chiefs a two-score lead and effectively put the game out of reach.
Chiefs Finally Pull Off Some Long Passes from KC Star
Twice, Alex Smith connected on passes of more than 40 yards to wide receiver Donnie Avery, adding a new dimension - the explosive element - to the Chiefs' attack.
"You've got to threaten them," Smith said. "With the style of defense they were playing, it is going to be a give and take, but you've got to get yours. You've got to be able to make the plays and when you do, they've got to be big plays and game-changers. We had some there in the first half."
Smith started the game four of 12 for 43 yards in the Chiefs' first three possessions before throwing a 44-yard pass to Avery late in the first quarter.
That completion set up the first of four Ryan Succop field goals. It also forced the Titans play the Chiefs a little more honest.
What do we make of Alex Smith?
He's exactly what he was advertised to be - a steady and serviceable NFL-caliber quarterback. Smith's numbers aren't going to jump off the page, but he doesn't do things that cost his team games. He's been blessed to play on good defensive teams, but he's also shown a penchant for rallying the offense at the most crucial times. Focus on whatever numbers you want, but the bottom line is Smith is 25-5-1 since the final game of the 2010 season as a starting quarterback. He doesn't get all the credit, but clearly he's been doing something right more often than not.
KCChiefs.com Photo Gallery: Chiefs vs Titans Photo Gallery
KCChiefs.com Video: Postgame With Mitch And Reid: Week 5
KCChiefs.com Video: Week 5: Chiefs Vs. Titans Highlights
NFL.com Video: GameDay: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans Highlights
The Chiefs' defense was suffocating, not allowing a first down until almost midway through the second quarter. But they gave up several big plays in the second half, including a desperation forward pitch that Titans running back Chris Johnson carried for a 49-yard touchdown.
However, with the game still in doubt, the defense forced the turnovers that kept the Chiefs perfect.
Here is what else we learned:
Who Cares How? Chiefs Are 5-0 For First Time Since 2003 from FS Kansas City
One fan complained about Alex Smith's dink-and-dunk offense. Another fan moaned about general manager John Dorsey's failure to address the receiving corps in the draft, and then wanted to know why Dwayne Bowe "wasn't trying" to get open. Still another fan wondered how defensive end Tamba Hali could overpursue on "every single play."
The complaints went on and on. The special teams are suspect, a caller griped. The offensive line got overmatched, bellyached another. And Smith can't throw deep.
Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs fro ESPN
The Chiefs, after leading 13-0 at halftime, survived, but only after a frantic fourth-quarter touchdown drive that was aided by a questionable late-hit penalty against the Titans. Until then, they were miserable in the second half, a collapse so steep that it's logical to wonder whether the Chiefs were good in the first place.
Titans Report Card vs Chiefs: Bad Grades from The Tennessean
Rushing offense ... F
While it might have been fun watching quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble for 50 yards, no one was laughing when the Titans were stuffed at the goal line. Jackie Battle had a nice 37-yard gain, but his other five carries produced one yard. Chris Johnson made a great play in the passing game but he was a non-factor in the rushing game, managing just 17 yards on 10 carries. Fans will eat Johnson's lunch for a poor game, but on many attempts he was gobbled up in the backfield, the victim of ineffective blocking.
Perfect Chiefs Rally For 26-17 Win Over Titans from The Associated Press via Sports Illustrated
Being perfect is what matters most in the NFL, as Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows only too well.
No matter how ugly some of those wins may be.
Jamaal Charles scored a 1-yard touchdown with 6:23 left, and the Chiefs rallied to beat the Tennessee Titans 26-17 on Sunday.
"We are 5-0, and we're not ashamed of that," Reid said. "We also know that we've got a ton of room to improve and it's important that we continue to do that."
Titans Pay Big For Linebacker's Sideline Hit from The Tennessean
As he charged toward the sideline in pursuit of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on third down, Titans middle linebacker Moise Fokou faced a series of questions that had to be answered in a fraction of a second:
- Was Smith definitely headed out of bounds or was there a chance he might turn upfield?
- Was there a chance Smith would pick up a critical first down if Fokou didn't hit him?
- Should Fokou lower the boom or simply try to nudge Smith over the line?
The Chiefs are off to their best start since 2003, when they won their first nine games."I am speechless right now," Charles said. "This team is very blessed to be 5-0 right now. Nobody expected us to be 5-0."Charles finished with 50 of his 108 yards on 22 carries coming in the fourth quarter on 11 carries. Ryan Succop kicked four field goals, including a 48-yarder.
"We have to fix things, because the schedule isn't going to get any easier," safety Bernard Pollard said. "This hurts. Momentum was in our favor. As a team, we have to learn how to step on their throats and keep our foot there. We didn't do that. We didn't do it at all. We beat ourselves. The things we did early in the game came back to haunt us."
The Titans have plenty to fix.
Kansas City held a 13-0 halftime lead and limited the Titans (3-2) to 83 total yards in the first half, highlighted by stuffing the Titans inside the 1-yard line on a fourth-and-goal.
"Defense, huge goal line stand, big swing there," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith told reporters during his postgame media session. "It could've been even bigger if we could've finished that drive off by scoring a touchdown, but that's a 10-point swing. Defense holding and then us moving all the way down and getting a field goal right before half, so big, big shift in the game there."
Locker Room Buzz: Kansas City Chiefs from ESPN
Starting wide receiver Donnie Avery, who had two catches of more than 40 yards, had difficulty raising his arm afterward. He was injured late in the first half and returned for a handful of plays in the third quarter. X-rays were negative and the Chiefs called the injury a bruised shoulder.
Cover-Two: Breaking Sown The Undefeated Chiefs And Saints from Sports Illustrated
Which team has been more impressive thus far: Kansas City or New Orleans?
Chris Burke: New Orleans. This has to do mostly with the competition faced. The Saints have wins over Atlanta, Miami and Chicago, a trio that should be in the playoff conversation come November and December. Kansas City, meanwhile, has run roughshod through the miserable NFC East (3-0 against the conference thus far), beating winless Jacksonville and now a Jake Locker-less Titans team.
Just as the postgame celebration was in full swing in the Kansas City Chiefs' locker room, it hit a momentary lull. Guard Jeff Allen punctuated the brief silence by saying, to no one in particular, "We own the fourth quarter."
Nobody can dispute it. The Chiefs have built their 5-0 record by dominating in the fourth quarter, and that was certainly true in Sunday's 26-17 win over the Tennessee Titans, in which Kansas City scored the game's final 13 points.
In the first four games, the fourth quarter was about protecting a lead. This time, it was about overcoming a deficit.
Garden City Native To Turn His Chiefs Song Into Video from The Garden City Telegram
Now, at 28, the Garden City native who resides in Dodge City is living his dream of playing for the Chiefs - without pads and a uniform.
Grooms wrote a song for his favorite team called "Tradition (Hail to the Chiefs)." Since its release in early September, the song has reached more than 10,000 plays and 2,000 downloads.
"It's just so crazy," Grooms said. "I'm from Garden City - a guy who has played local shows. To have this kind of attention is nuts."
Titans Have To Should Blame from WKRN
There was plenty of blame to distribute, but in the end they have no one to blame but themselves.
The first half was horrific for the offense. They didn't make a first down until their sixth possession of the game. That's five straight possessions without moving the chains. That will cure insomnia.
On their sixth possession, the Titans managed to drive to the Chiefs one-yard line. That's where futility met depression.
5 Things To Know From KC's 26-17 Win Over Titans from The Associated Press via The Sentinel & Enterprise
The Chiefs are known for having loud support back in Kansas City. Well, their fans travel pretty well, and they put enough red into LP Field that they were able to be heard during the national anthem into the fourth quarter as the Chiefs rallied. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said they definitely had an impact.
"My hat goes off to the fans," Reid said. "The fans really controlled that lower bowl there. We heard them and really appreciate all that support they were able to give us especially down the stretch there."
Carmel's McGrath Earns Chiefs' Attention from The Chicago Daily Herald
Before he became someone you might consider adding to your fantasy football team, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath blocked, blocked and blocked some more for Carmel High School's option offense.
"We don't throw the ball a heck of a lot," Carmel varsity head coach Andy Bitto said.
Blocking remains part of McGrath's job description these days, but it is his pass catching that been a revelation for the unbeaten Chiefs, who claimed him off waivers a little more than a month ago from the Seattle Seahawks.
Chiefs' Berry And Bray Enjoy LP Field More Than Tennessee Titans from The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Somehow, some way, they almost overcame it all, surprisingly turning a 0-13 halftime hole into a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Then reality set in. You just don't knock off the undefeated Chiefs in the season's fifth week when your 30-year-old journeyman quarterback from Harvard leads you in rushing. Especially when that same quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, pretty much cancels out his lone touchdown pass with two interceptions.
Photo: 5-0 Chiefs Have 99 Problems, But Losing Ain't One from CBS Sports
It's not just the Chiefs that are resurgent this year either, it's their fans too. As you can see, they brought their 'A' game on Sunday. Titans fans showed up to LP Field in Nashville wearing boring Kendall Wright jerseys, not Chiefs fans though, they showed up in style. We're talking Jay-Z '99 Problems' style.
Fitzpatrick found a hole on third-and-goal and finished off his 9-yard run with a dive into the end zone, giving Tennessee the lead. The surprises kept coming though, as Fitzpatrick did his best Cam Newton imitation during his celebration, copying his trademark Superman move.
Unfortunately for the Harvard graduate, the Chiefs were able to discover the Titans' kryptonite, and Kansas City went on to win 26-17.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Completes Zero-Yard Pass To Himself; Tennessee Titans Fail To Score from Sports Illustrated
In case you were wondering, the official play-by-play registered that debacle as follows:R.Fitzpatrick pass short middle to R.Fitzpatrick to KC 1 for no gain (J.Houston).
The Titans had four downs from the Chiefs' 1-yard line, and they couldn't get it over for a score.
By The Numbers: Patriots, Tom Brady Showcase Week 5 Lowlights from CBS Sports
4,998:The number of career rushing yards by Kansas City's Jamaal Charles. He passed Christian Okoye for No. 3 on the all-time Chiefs career list (via the Chiefs).
NFL Morning After: Andy Reid's Amazing Turnaround from ProFootballTalk
But if I had to pick one person who has done his job the best so far this season, it wouldn't be any of those players - or any player. It would be Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
The job Reid has done, taking over a 2-14 team and getting off to a 5-0 start, is nothing short of remarkable. Last year's Chiefs were a mess on offense, defense and special teams. This year's Chiefs are playing outstanding football in all three phases of the game. If it wasn't already clear before Sunday's 26-17 win over a good Titans team in Tennessee, it's clear now: The Chiefs are for real.
2013 NFL Grades, Week 5: Are Saints Secretly NFL's Best? from CBS Sports
Very nice road victory for Andy Reid to push the Chiefs to 5-0. This wasn't Alex Smith's best performance but Jamaal Charles got the offense going nicely. The defense bottled up Chris Johnson save one big touchdown catch and they picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick twice and sacked him another three times.
Stars Come Out To See Dodgers Make Post Season Run from Dodgers.com
Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, born and raised a Royals and Chiefs fan in Kansas City, has been a Dodger season ticket holder for a couple of years and considers them his team-away-from-home. Until the Royals and Dodgers play in a meaningful game, he's pretty much off the hook, free to root for his adopted home team during a postseason filled with high expectations.
"If the Dodgers and Royals played, I would have to root for the Royals," he said. "I'm from Kansas City and that's the way it goes. They would deserve me rooting for them. I'm involved with a charity the Royals sponsor in Kansas City. But I live in L.A., so I get to root for the Dodgers too."
Multiple TMZ strip club sources ... yeah, we got those (a lot of those) ... tell us Johnson has been spotted manning the DJ booth at Tootsie's Cabaret in Miami several times this year.