Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs had a tough time moving the ball on Sunday night. It was strange to see so many of their drives end in punts.
But if you don't put the Chiefs away, Mahomes will eventually hunt you down. That's what happened Sunday, when his legs carried the team on a game-tying scoring drive when nothing else worked, and then he finished the job in overtime.
When the Chiefs won the coin toss in overtime, a scoring drive seemed inevitable. The Tennessee Titans played hard and well all night, but Mahomes usually finds a way. Kansas City got a field goal to start overtime, the defense didn't let the Titans get a first down on their lone overtime possession and Kansas City beat Tennessee 20-17.
The Chiefs weren't great Sunday. But they have Mahomes. That's the biggest reason they've been good the past few seasons, and the biggest reason they'll be good for years to come. He tips the field in Kansas City's favor. That's why the Chiefs escaped with a win.
Titans take a lead by halftime
The Chiefs were a two-touchdown favorite by kickoff. The Titans had to start rookie quarterback Malik Willis because Ryan Tannehill isn't ready yet off an ankle injury. NBC had to be worried fans would turning off a blowout in the second half.
It started that way. The Chiefs had a 15-play drive to start the game, though the Titans held them to a field goal. The Chiefs got a touchdown to start the second quarter on a Mahomes 7-yard pass to Mecole Hardman. The extra point missed but the score was 9-0. It didn't seem like the extra point would matter because the Chiefs could name the score.
Then the game flipped. Derrick Henry got rolling. He had a nifty 56-yard run that set up one of his two first-half scores. Kansas City stopped moving the ball. The Titans took a 14-9 lead into halftime. Nobody saw that coming, especially after the Chiefs took an early lead.
The Titans were winning as they always do, making plays and being generally difficult on defense, and riding Henry for their offense. It's rare to see the Chiefs look confounded, but the Titans made nothing easy for them on Sunday night.
Chiefs get frustrated by struggles
When a short pass went off Travis Kelce and was picked off by Titans rookie cornerback Roger McCreary early in the third quarter, Kelce ripped off his helmet and threw it while screaming in frustration. The Chiefs maybe didn't take the Titans lightly, but they presumably didn't expect it to be as hard as it was on Sunday night either.
The Titans kept everything in front of them. Often Mahomes had time but nothing open. Then he'd hold the ball too long and have to scramble. The Chiefs were shut out in the third quarter. That's a rarity for them, especially at home.
The Titans' offense wasn't doing much either and finally the Chiefs went on a scoring drive. The Chiefs tied the game late in the fourth quarter on Mahomes' 14-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion — which was set up by a 20-yard Mahomes run on third-and-17 — and the game went to overtime.
In OT, the Chiefs got the ball first. Mahomes and Kelce connected on an impressive pass and catch for 18 yards. Then Mahomes threw one up for Noah Gray, who made a great catch for 27 more yards. That put the Chiefs in field-goal range, but a touchdown would end the game right there. That's a reason the Chiefs went for it on fourth-and-1 instead of trying a short field goal. Mahomes hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for the first down. But the Titans held again, forcing the Chiefs to settle for a field goal. Butker made it to give the Chiefs a 20-17 lead.
The Titans had punted on their final five possessions of regulation, so a long scoring drive seemed improbable. Willis was sacked on second and third down, then he threw incomplete on fourth down to end the game.
The Chiefs are 6-2 after the win. It wasn't an easy one.