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Titans beat Chiefs, 22-21, in epic playoff comeback

Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry led the charge in the Titans' playoff win over Kansas City. Here are five quick observations.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Daniel Sorensen (49) on a two-point conversion attempt during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game. Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Five quick observations from the Titans' 22-21 wild card playoff victory against the Chiefs on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium:

Titans orchestrate another epic rally

The Chiefs grabbed an early 14-0 lead against the Titans for the second time in as many seasons.

But while the Titans rallied for a 19-17 victory in Kansas City in 2016, this time they roared back from down 18, the fifth-largest comeback in franchise history.

Alex Smith tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with three seconds remaining in the first half – Kevin Byard whiffed on a tackle at the goal line – to give the Chiefs a 21-3 lead at halftime.

But the Titans scored three touchdowns in the second half, including two in the fourth quarter.

Marcus Mariota completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to give the Titans a 22-21 lead with 6:08 remaining, after Derrick Henry scored on a 35-yard run to cut the deficit to 21-16 with 14:08 to play. Two-point conversion attempts after each score failed.

Mariota leads the NFL this season with five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Mariota improved to 2-14 in his career when trailing by 14 or more points, per ESPN Stats & Information, with both victories coming in Kansas City.

Mariota completes TD pass to himself

The rally began with Mariota taking matters into his own hands – the Titans' franchise quarterback completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to himself to cut the Chiefs' lead to 21-10 with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter.

Mariota, whose pass was batted by Darrelle Revis, snagged the ball and dove into the end zone, capping a 15-play, 91-yard drive that lasted 8½ minutes.

It was his second career touchdown catch. He became the first player to catch a touchdown pass from himself since Brad Johnson in Week 7, 1997, according to NFL Research.

Marcus Mariota, Adoree' Jackson commit turnovers

The Titans committed two turnovers, an interception by Mariota and a muffed punt by Adoree' Jackson. The Chiefs didn't score off either mistake.

But the Titans squandered a chance to chop into the lead midway through the second quarter, when Mariota was intercepted by Marcus Peters at the 9 on a pass intended for Delanie Walker. The Chiefs went three-and-out on the next drive.

In the third quarter, Chiefs cornerback Keith Reaser recovered Jackson's muff at the Titans 28. The defense forced a stop, and kicker Harrison Butker hit the right upright on a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Officials miss apparent fumbles by each team

The officials missed an apparent fumble by each team in the second quarter.

Mariota appeared to lose the ball when he was drilled on a sack by Derrick Johnson, but the officials ruled he had been stopped by forward progress, which is not reviewable.

Ryan Succop hit a 49-yard field goal to cut the Chiefs' lead to 14-3 with 1:55 remaining in the first half.

On the Chiefs' ensuring drive, tight end Travis Kelce appeared to lose the ball on a hit by Johnathan Cyprien. The play was not reviewed. Kelce was wobbly getting up, and ruled out for the game with a concussion. The Chiefs finished the drive with a touchdown.

Derrick Henry sets career high, dodges bullet

Henry had a career-high 132 rushing yards and a score on 21 carries, essentially icing the game with a 22-yard run after a tremendous block by Mariota to spring him for the first down.

Henry and the Titans dodged a bullet moments earlier, when the running back appeared to fumble for the second time in the game. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson scooped a loose ball and returned it for what seemed like the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes to play.

But replay showed Henry was clearly down by contact.

Henry started for the second consecutive game in place of DeMarco Murray, who is sidelined by a knee injury.

Henry's previous career high was 131 rushing yards on 19 carries in a victory against the Colts earlier this season on Monday Night Football.

Reach Jason Wolf at jwolf@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter at @JasonWolf and on Instagram and Snapchat at TitansBeat.