NASHVILLE – The Titans beat the Chiefs 27-3 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out…
A Swarming Defense
We're going to get to the offense here shortly, because they helped set the tone in the game with a fast start. But perhaps the most encouraging thing that came out of Sunday's game was the play of the defense. Titans edge rusher Bud Dupree said the plan was simple against the Chiefs: "Don't let Mahomes be Mahomes," Dupree said of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. "That was the whole game plan. He's a stud of a player, the best in the league at what he does. We (had) to control him." The Titans made Mahomes look pretty average on Sunday while sacking him four times and forcing him to turn the ball over twice. Several players had standout performances, and we're going to get to some of those guys in here as well. But as a whole, the defense shut the Chiefs out in the first half, and they held the Chiefs to just a field goal for the contest. "We just know what we are capable of on the defensive side of the ball," Titans OLB Harold Landry said. "We just have so much belief and confidence that we are capable of what we put out there. Just have to keep doing what we are doing."
Impact Players on Defense
Big defensive lineman Denico Autry was a disruptive presence all day. Autry tallied two sacks, four quarterback hits and two tackles for a loss, in addition to three tackles. "The No.1 key this week was to put pressure on the quarterback," Autry said. "That's what we went out in practice this week to work on." But Autry was hardly the lone playmaker. Titans safety Kevin Byard continues to make plays – he punched the ball out when Mahomes scrambled, resulting in a fumble, and a turnover. Rashaan Evans picked off a pass after fellow linebacker David Long Jr. deflected it, and he also recovered a fumble late. Safety Dane Cruikshank, who started in place of Amani Hooker, led the team with eight tackles, while Long was everywhere. Dupree and Landry also recorded sacks.
Get Up and Go Offense
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill came out firing, completing his first 11 passes as the offense raced to an early lead. It was a continuation of Tannehill's finish to the Bills game. In fact, his second quarter incompletion on Sunday ended a streak of 21 consecutive completions. Everything was clicking early for the Titans. Tannehill, who completed 21-of-27 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown in the game, threw a touchdown pass to A.J. Brown, and he also ran for another. But on this day, when running back Derrick Henry's streak of 100-yard games ended at five as he was held to 86 yards, Henry threw a touchdown pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt. It was that kind of day, as the Titans built a 27-0 lead and never looked back. "We got in the end one, and guys made plays," Henry said. "That's all you can ask for."
Brown, slowed the past week with a miserable bout of food poisoning, made the Chiefs sick on Sunday. Brown made a diving catch on a 46-yard completion to jumpstart one drive, and he finished that drive off with a 24-yard score. Brown was targeted nine times by Tannehill on Sunday, and he caught eight of those passes for 133 yards and the score. In back-to-back weeks, Brown has stepped up big for the Titans, and he's part of the reason this offense is now finding its stride. "For me, personally, I was just trying to make a play each and every time the ball came to me," Brown said. "(But) I tell myself I haven't done anything. I've got to keep getting better, got to keep working. I'm on to the next."
Taylor Lewan, out with a concussion, was replaced in the starting lineup by back-up Kendall Lamm, and when Lamm left the game injured, Bobby Hart stepped in to play left tackle. Hart, by the way, just joined the team this week. In game, Rodger Saffold and Nate Davis both left with injuries, forcing guys like Dillon Radunz and Corey Levin into the mix. The Titans didn't skip a beat, however, as Tannehill was sacked just once, and the unit kept the train rolling. "We held the Chiefs to three points too, so everybody -- it was a great win for everybody," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said when asked about the offensive line. "Great job. The guys stepped up. Everybody did their job. Some guys can't go, next guy goes in."
Confident, But Careful
After a Week 4 loss to the Jets, everyone wanted to talk about how terrible this Titans team looked. My how the tables have turned. The Titans surprised a lot of folks across the country with an upset win over the Bills on Monday night, and they did it again by knocking the defending AFC champions with ease here on Sunday. With a 5-2 mark, the Titans will undoubtedly hear this week about how they're now AFC darlings, and true contenders. It was clear after the game players didn't want to hear any of this talk. "The league is going to do its thing," Brown said. "They are going to say, 'Look out for the Titans. They beat the Chiefs. They beat the Bills.' But, I mean, for us, it's week to week. It's a week-to-week league and it's tough. We've got to come in and we've got to go work every week. … It's a week-to-week league and we're going to try to stay focused and worry about next week against the Colts."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7 at Nissan Stadium.