Hopeless Titans clobbered by West champion Chiefs
Posted: Monday, December 27, 2010 3:17 pm
By: By DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — With Kansas City’s greatest one-year turnaround came great reward.
Three hours after racing past Tennessee 34-14 Sunday, the Chiefs became AFC West champions when Cincinnati upended four-time defending champion San Diego.
The Chargers’ loss gave KC (10-5) its first division title since Dick Vermeil’s 2003 Chiefs went 13-3. KC’s 10 wins in Todd Haley’s second season as head coach are six better than last year’s 4-12 mark and match the total of the past three miserable seasons combined.
Minutes after beating the Titans, the Chiefs knew their playoff goal was oh, so close, and were in no mood to celebrate their historic turnaround.
Matt Cassel connected with Jamaal Charles for touchdowns on KC’s first two possessions and Eric Berry returned an interception 54 yards for another score as the Chiefs raced to a 31-7 halftime lead. Cassel hit 12 of his first 13 passes.
The Titans (6-9) spent much of the game dropping passes, missing arm tackles and piling up penalties while losing for the seventh time in eight games.
Dwayne Bowe had six catches for 153 yards, including a career-long 75-yard touchdown as the Chiefs remained unbeaten in seven home games.
The Chiefs had 327 of their 458 total yards and all but three of their points while rolling up a 31-7 halftime lead.
“The game got out of reach early,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “You’ve got to execute to near-perfection when you get down like we were and we just didn’t do that.”
A couple of times in the ragged second half, it seemed fights were about to break out. By the end of the third quarter, each team had three unnecessary roughness penalties.
The Titans, one of the league’s most penalized teams, were flagged nine times for 74 yards, while the Chiefs drew seven penalties for 84.
Kerry Collins, nearing the end of his 16th season, hit a career milestone that gave him little satisfaction. On his 53-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt in the second quarter, he became the 12th quarterback to go over 40,000 yards passing. He also connected with Jared Cook on a 22-yard touchdown pass and was 14-for-37 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
He was intercepted twice.
“There will be time for me to think about it and I understand it’s an accomplishment,” he said. “But the emotions are so bitter over today and the way the season has gone, it’s just hard to feel good about it.”Cassel was 4 for 4 on KC’s first possession, capping it with a screen pass to Charles that went 14 yards. After a Titans punt, Cassel was 6 for 7 in a 10-play, 61-yard drive. On second down from the 5, he tossed a perfectly timed fade pass to Charles in the corner of the zone for a 14-0 lead.
On KC’s next possession, Ryan Succop made a 35-yard field goal. He also kicked a 42-yarder in the third.
Bowe, whose hot-and-cold season has included a two-game stretch where he had only one catch, got behind the secondary on a third-and-19 play from the Kansas City 25. Hauling in Cassel’s pass near the 50, he quickly changed direction and sprinted into the end zone for the 75-yard touchdown play.
With 22 seconds left in the half, Berry stepped in front of a receiver and weaved 54 yards into the end zone. The rookie safety broke two feeble attempts at arm tackles and avoided two more attempts before diving into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown and a 31-7 lead.
“That was awesome,” he said. “The D-line got great pressure and I just came up with the ball. I think the pressure from the D-line forced the throw. Right after they got the pressure, they turned around and started blocking.”
Notes: In the first quarter, Marc Mariani broke the Titans’ franchise record for kickoff return yards of 1,317 set by Bobby Jancik in 1963. ... It was the seventh time this season a Chiefs opponent failed to score in the first quarter. ... Bowe and Charles are the Chiefs’ third WR-RB combo to go over 1,000 yards receiving-running in a season. ... The announced crowd of 65,606 was the smallest of the year at Arrowhead. ... Thomas Jones fumbled in the fourth quarter, ending his streak of touches without a fumble at 862.