Tyreek Hill (C) of the Kansas City Chiefs is tackled by Brian Orakpo and Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans during the AFC Wild Card Playoff Game
Los Angeles (AFP) - Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota caught an astonishing touchdown pass from himself as the Titans rallied from an 18-point deficit Saturday to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in the NFL playoffs.
The Titans notched their first playoff victory in 14 years, stunning the Chiefs in Kansas City in the American Football Conference first-round clash.
Mariota’s two touchdown passes included a 22-yard go-ahead toss to Eric Decker 6:06 left in the fourth quarter.
With the Titans trailing 21-3 at halftime, he got the comeback going by marching them 91 yards to open the second half and scored on an incredible play.
Mariota rolled to his left and threw toward the end zone, but Chiefs cornerback Darrell Revis deflected the pass back toward him.
Mariota reeled in the loose ball and plunged into the end zone – credited with a six-yard TD pass to himself.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Mariota said.
The Titans scored again early in the fourth when running back Derrick Henry raced 35 yards for a touchdown.
The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Tennessee down 21-16.
They edged ahead on Mariota’s TD pass to Decker. The two-point conversion attempt failed – and nearly brought disaster for the Titans when Mariota was sacked, but officials ruled he was down before the ball came loose.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans scores a touchdown on a pass from himself during the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs
Similar drama unfolded on the Titans’ final drive, when Henry was hit by Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters and the ball came loose.
Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson raced to the end zone with the apparent fumble for a touchdown, but it was overturned as officials deemed Henry was down and the play complete before Johnson scooped up the ball.
The Chiefs had built a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter, when quarterback Alex Smith used big completions to wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce to set up touchdowns. The first came on a one-yard run by Kareem Hunt and the second on a 13-yard catch by Kelce.
The Titans got on the board with a 49-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, but Kansas City made it 21-3 in the final seconds of the first half on a 14-yard scoring pass from Smith to Demarcus Robinson.
The Chiefs’ suffered a blow when Kelce suffered a concussion late in the first half on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien.
Kelce didn’t return to the game and the Chiefs struggled offensively in the second half.
The Titans advance to a divisional game against either the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Special,” Mariota said of the win. “I’m part of a great group of guys that really just believe in each other and it’s something special. I look forward to playing next week.”
In National Football Conference action later Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams hosted the Atlanta Falcons.