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Thursday February 2nd, 2023 7:20AM

Mahomes helps Chiefs rally past Titans 20-17 in overtime

By The Associated Press
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was probably having flashbacks Sunday night to his days at Texas Tech, when he would scramble around like a kid playing sandlot football while routinely throwing the ball 60-plus times in a game.

The Chiefs needed all of it — every run, every throw, every yard — to rally past the Tennessee Titans.

Mahomes finished 43 of 68 for 446 yards and a touchdown, and he ran for the tying score and 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, before Harrison Butker atoned for two earlier misses by drilling the go-ahead field goal in overtime and lifting the Chiefs to the 20-17 victory.

“I did not know I threw that many,” Mahomes said with a smile, “but yeah, Texas Tech, I threw a couple, so I'm able to do it.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid improved to 21-3 coming off a bye by beating a franchise that has long been his nemesis. He was just 2-9 against the Titans — heck, Reid has three wins against the Chiefs — including a 27-3 loss in Nashville last year.

It was only the second win for Kansas City (6-2) in its last seven games against the Titans.

“You have to be able to win a game like that," Reid said, “where everything isn't just perfect, and your emotions are up and down and you have to fight through. We were so close on so many plays. Step up and let's go.”

Things were spiraling toward another disappointment the way Derrick Henry was chewing up yardage against the Kansas City defense, and the way the Titans (5-3) were shutting down Mahomes and Co. into the fourth quarter.

Indeed, the Chiefs were trailing 17-9 and time was running out when they took over at their own 7-yard line. But in vintage Mahomes fashion, he willed his team downfield. His 20-yard scramble on third-and-17 kept the drive going, and his third-and-9 touchdown scramble along with his 2-point conversion run knotted the game with 2:56 to go.

After the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss, the Titans nearly stopped them, only for Noah Gray to make a nifty third-down catch. Then, Mahomes hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth down to keep the drive alive — and the clock moving.

Butker drilled his 28-yarder to give Kansas City the lead with 4:04 left in overtime.

The Chiefs proceeded to stuff Henry, then sacked Titans rookie Malik Willis on back-to-back plays, before batting down his fourth-down throw to end the game and send fireworks flying into the sky above Arrowhead Stadium.

“When you get to those end of the game situations,” Mahomes said, “you have to try to go out there and make it happen.”

Henry finished with 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Titans. But he didn't get a whole lot of help from Willis, who got his second start in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill, and was just 5 of 16 for 80 yards.

“I'm very disappointed. I feel terrible for the players,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “They compete, and put so much into this, and play through pain and discomfort and any situation. I'm lucky to coach them. They fight.”

The Chiefs figured the best way to shut down Henry, who had run for 219 yards and two touchdowns last week against Houston, was to keep him off the field. They opened the game with a 15-play march that took up 8 1/2 minutes and ended in a field goal, then forced a punt and went 79 yards with Mahomes finding Hardman for the touchdown.

All told, the Chiefs held the ball nearly 13 of the 15 minutes in the first quarter.

The Titans finally got going in the second, and it was Willis using his legs to get Kansas City off balance. The fleet-footed rookie twice scrambled for good yardage before Henry turned a direct snap into a 4-yard TD run.

After forcing a punt, Henry went to work again. He slipped through the line untouched and was finally dragged down 56 yards later. Then, the 247-pound running back pounded into the end zone to give the Titans a 14-9 lead.

It was Henry's 74th career touchdown run, moving him past Earl Campbell for the most in franchise history.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, were incapable of running the ball. And with the Titans no longer worried about stopping the rush, they began to relentlessly pressure Mahomes. Denico Autry's first sack forced a punt, then his second on third-and-1 near midfield prevented Kansas City from getting points just before halftime.

The Titans eventually extended the lead when Mahomes was picked off by rookie Roger McCreary, setting up Randy Bullock's 44-yard field goal. But their own offense started to fizzle, and despite Butker's missed field goal — he also missed an earlier extra point — the Chiefs managed to get the late touchdown they needed to force overtime.

“It was a struggle,” Reid said. “We were up and down and the guys hung together.”

TANNEHILL TRIED

Tannehill was limited in practice Wednesday and Friday but did not practice at all Thursday and was questionable for the game. He tried warming up but never planted his ailing ankle before walking off the field with Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel about two hours before kickoff. He was made inactive 30 minutes later.

INJURIES

Titans: FS Josh Thompson left in the second half with a knee injury. LB Bud Dupree left with a hip injury.

Chiefs: CB Jaylen Watson landed awkwardly on his neck in the first half, though he eventually returned to the game.

UP NEXT

The Titans return home to face Denver on Sunday.

The Chiefs get a visit from Jacksonville on Sunday.

___

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