KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jake Locker passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Titans to a decisive 26-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season opener for both teams Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The win marked the 400th regular season victory in Titans-Oilers franchise history.
"Obviously a big win for us, the 400th win for the Titans. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm very grateful to Mr. [Tommy] Smith and certainly we've got a game ball for him," said Ken Whisenhunt following his first win as the head coach of the Titans.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton unleashed his 3-4 defense and gave Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense fits all game.
Tennessee's defense was a dominant force throughout the game, holding the Chiefs to 1-for-12 on third downs and intercepting Smith three times. The unit stifled Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, holding him to 34 total yards. Jason McCourty recorded two of the Titans' three interceptions of Alex Smith, who was also sacked four times.
The Tennessee Titans open the 2014 regular season against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
"Hats off to the defense," said Whisenhunt. "They played very well today. They did a great job on third down, they did a good job against the run game, and made a lot of plays."
Freshly signed kicker Ryan Succop made a triumphant return to Kansas City after being released by the Chiefs just last week. Succop made all four of his field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards.
It took the Titans offense a quarter to get going, but Locker and company found their groove in the second quarter. Down 3-0, Locker led the Titans on an 11-play, 62-yard drive, culminating in a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker.
At the end of the first half, punter Brett Kern pinned the Chiefs at their own two-yard line. McCourty intercepted Alex Smith on the ensuing play to give the Titans the ball back with 28 seconds remaining. Locker engineered a quick four-play, 24-yard drive that set up a 36-yard Ryan Succop field goal to give the Titans a 10-3 lead at the half.
The Titans opened the third quarter with another scoring drive capped off by a Kendall Wright six-yard touchdown catch. The drive started with a 39-yard bomb downfield to Justin Hunter. Wright finished the afternoon with six catches for 46 yards and the score. Hunter led all Titans receivers with 63 yards.
Locker spread the ball around the entire game with 22 completions going to eight different receivers. Shonn Greene paced the Titans' rushing attack with 71 yards on 15 carries. Dexter McCluster added 29 yards rushing and 19 yards receiving in his return to Kansas City.
The Chiefs scored their lone touchdown of the game on a five-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Anthony Fasano to make the game 23-10 in the fourth quarter. The Titans responded with a 10-play drive encompassing 5:19 seconds off the clock and ended in Succop's fourth field goal of the day.
Rookie running back Bishop Sankey got involved in the fourth quarter with six carries for 25 yards.
The Titans dominated the day statistically. Tennessee had 24 first downs to Kansas City's 15, held an edge in rushing yards of 162 to 67, and posted a plus-three turnover ratio.
The Titans will host the Dallas Cowboys in week 2 in the team's home opener at LP Field.
Notes: LB Zach Brown left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return … With 59 yards receiving, Nate Washington became the ninth player in franchise history to reach 4,000 receiving yards.