The Kansas City Chiefs continue to prove it’s never easy against the Tennessee Titans.
After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Chiefs endured dropped passes, penalties, injuries, sloppy play on special teams and yet another lost fumble against the scrappy Titans, a team that ran just 49 offensive plays to the Chiefs’ 78.
The Chiefs appeared well on their way to victory, holding a 32-27 lead with less than two minutes remaining and lined up for a field-goal attempt. Instead, they left Nashville with a frustrating 35-32 defeat.
A botched snap doomed the Chiefs. Punter Dustin Colquitt was not ready for the ball from long-snapper James Winchester. Colquitt threw it and was penalized for intentional grounding.
The Titans then went 61 yards in four plays to take the lead for good after quarterback Ryan Tannehill found wide receiver Adam Humphries for a 23-yard touchdown. The Titans converted the two-point conversion to account for the final score, then weathered Kansas City’s final shot.
The loss dropped the Chiefs to 6-4 while the Titans improved to 5-5.
“I take responsibility for the loss,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We were in position to close it and we didn’t get that done. My responsibility.”
Winchester took responsibility for his miscue on the snap that led to the Titans’ game-winning drive.
“It starts with me. ... Unfortunately I let those guys down,” he said. “A lot of guys worked their (expletive) off all game.”
Kansas City had an opportunity to send the game to overtime, but Titans defensive back Joshua Kalu blocked kicker Harrison Butker’s 52-yard field goal attempt — he either got off early or just as close to the snap as possible — as time expired.
“That was like one of those Madden plays,” Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said of the blocked kick. “He came off the edge, like, perfectly. So, good for him, bad for us.”
The Chiefs had plenty of chances to put the game away. They held a commanding edge in time of possession, 37:51 to 22:09 edge. They also produced 530 yards of total offense to the Titans’ 371.
But the Titans continued to hang around and were down just 22-20 to start the fourth quarter.
“You come down and play like we did, again, head coach’s responsibility,” Reid said. “You can’t do that.
“Contrary, I thought (Titans coach) Mike (Vrabel) did a nice job with his football team. They played well, aggressive. We have an opportunity to put the game away, we need to make sure we do that.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes did his part in a game that saw the lead change six times. He completed 36 of 50 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns in his return from missing two games with a dislocated right kneecap. That passing yardage marked the third 400-yard passing effort of his career.
Mahomes’ signature play came in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs holding a 22-20 lead and facing third-and-9. With the pocket collapsing around him, Mahomes stepped up, spotted rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman near midfield and threw the ball while jumping off his left leg. Hardman secured the pass, then ran loose through the Titans’ secondary for a 63-yard score.
Hill and tight end Travis Kelce had big days, too. Hill had 11 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown on 19 targets while Kelce hauled in seven receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Of Mahomes’ 36 completions, 18 went to Hill and Kelce.
“It was amazing having him back out there,” Hill said of Mahomes.
Running back Damien Williams, who drew the start with LeSean McCoy healthy but declared inactive before the game, totaled 109 yards (77 rushing).
“I just thought it was the right thing to do right now,” Reid explained about McCoy not suiting up. “LeSean’s not getting any younger, so it’s important that I manage him the right way as we go. I just thought it was the right thing to do at this time.”
Williams’ lost fumble midway through the second quarter energized the Titans. Linebacker Rashaan Evans scooped up the loose ball and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown, giving the Titans a 14-10 lead.
Williams’ turnover marked the third consecutive game in which the Chiefs have lost a fumble. But that was only one of numerous issues Sunday.
Titans running back Derrick Henry gashed the Chiefs’ defense for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He broke free down the left sideline on a 68-yard run in the third quarter to give the Titans a 20-19 lead. Rookie safety Juan Thorhill took a bad angle and missed the tackle on the back end of Kansas City’s coverage.
The Chiefs’ defense limited the Titans’ passing game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 13 of 19 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns despite getting sacked four times and hit eight others.
The Chiefs’ loss came with more injuries, too, especially on the offensive line.
Mitchell Schwartz and Martinas Rankin suffered knee injuries on consecutive plays late in the second quarter. Schwartz was able to return to action after halftime, but Rankin was immediately ruled out after being carted off the field.
“We’ll know more tomorrow (Monday) once we get the MRI,” Reid said of Rankin’s injury.
With Eric Fisher (groin) and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) inactive, the Chiefs were down to five healthy offensive linemen to close out the second half: Cam Erving, Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie, Stefen Wisniewski and rookie Nick Allegretti.
Ervin manned the left tackle position and Reiter stayed at center while Wylie moved from right guard to right tackle. Wisniewski entered the game at left guard and Allegretti played right guard.
Reid said after the game that defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah suffered a torn right pectoral muscle.
The Chiefs get an extra day of rest before taking on the Los Angeles Chargers Nov. 18 at Mexico City.