Titans stay in playoff picture, snap long losing streak at KC
By: By DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The franchise now known as the Tennessee Titans hadn’t won in Kansas City in exactly 17 years. When the dejected Chiefs think back to their last win in their once-friendly home, it only seems that long.
Vince Young passed for 191 yards and two touchdowns and Rob Bironas kicked four field goals Sunday, leading Tennessee to a much-needed 26-17 victory that kept the Titans in the AFC playoff picture.
Kansas City fell to its seventh straight defeat.
With two games left — at home against the New York Jets and at Indianapolis — the Titans (8-6) remain very much alive in the wild-card chase.
“We’ve just got to take care of our own business,” said defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
With the stadium about half empty on the sunny, chilly afternoon, the Chiefs (4-10) closed out their most miserable home season in 30 years. Their 2-6 record in Arrowhead Stadium, where they used to be nearly invincible, was their worst in a non-strike year since the 1977 team was 1-6 in a 14-game season.
“It’s never good to be a part of the worst,” said right guard John Welbourn, staring at the floor. “You know what happens when you’re part of the worst. There are going to be a lot of changes around here next year.”
With road games remaining at Detroit and the New York Jets, the possibility is growing that the Chiefs could end the season on a nine-game losing streak. For the sixth straight week, the Chiefs failed to score in the fourth quarter.
“It’s embarrassing,” said tight end Tony Gonzalez. “It’s frustrating. It’s all those things. I do feel like we played a little better today. The O-line played really well.”
Easy to spot were signs in the once-supportive home crowd urging that various coaches, players and front office executives be run out of town.
“I’m surprised there are fans in the stadium,” Gonzalez said. “People don’t want to be associated with a loser. That’s just how life is. If we don’t win, we’re going to be lucky to get that thing half filled.”
The Chiefs had won 21 of their previous 24 against quarterbacks in their first or second year as starters making their initial appearance in Arrowhead.
But Young made almost no mistakes while completing 16-of-26 passes without an interception.
Roydell Williams caught four passes for 94 yards, including touchdowns of 16 and 41 yards. Bironas, who came in leading the NFL in field goals, connected from 37, 37, 30 and 25 yards for the Titans, who had lost three of four on the road.
The Chiefs had given up 14 sacks their two previous games but did not allow the Titans to get to Brodie Croyle even once on the icy turf.
“The offense played well. The defense held up, and the special teams made plays,” Bironas said. “I knew we were going to be able to kick (field goals) wherever we needed to kick and not worry about it.”
The Titans took the opening kickoff 60 yards in eight plays to seize a 7-0 lead, with Young connecting for 17 yards to Justin Gage and 16 yards to Eric Moulds before Williams took a short pass and turned it into a 16-yard scoring play.
But the Titans’ only score the rest of the first half turned out to be a 37-yard field goal after Kansas City’s Eddie Drummond muffed a punt and Vincent Fuller recovered at the 21.
On Kansas City’s first touchdown drive, Croyle converted four third-down situations, including a 10-yard touchdown play when Samie Parker took the pass, twisted away from safety Calvin Lowry, and stretched into the end zone.
The Chiefs converted two third downs and one fourth-down play and took the lead on Croyle’s five-yard TD pass just before the end of the half. Kris Wilson dragged two tacklers into the end zone to make it 14-10.
After John Carney’s 36-yard field goal gave the Chiefs a 17-13 lead, Williams got behind safety Jarrad Page and cruised in on a 41-yard catch-and-run for a 20-17 advantage.
“We saw that their guys were biting pretty hard on that, and with the speed that Roydell has, we just got the ball out to him,” said Young. “It’s something we worked on all week.”
Notes: Rookie safety Michael Griffin’s third interception in three games gave the Titans the ball on the Kansas City 28 in the third quarter and led to Bironas’ 30-yarder. … Gonzalez extended his franchise record with a catch in 113 straight games.