NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- It wasn't quite as dramatic or
significant as the Music City Miracle. The Kansas City Chiefs will
take it just the same.
The Chiefs didn't need a long lateral on a controversial kickoff
return like the Tennessee Titans once used on their way to the
Super Bowl. Other than that, Monday night's 49-38 victory was as
wild as anything Nashville has seen on a football field.
And it came from two of the NFL's most disappointing teams.
"It's tough to come in here anytime, let alone win a football
game like we did tonight," said Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, who
scowled at his defense for much of the game.
Kansas City (5-8), which won 13 games last season, was helped
greatly by a phantom penalty, then got the winning points on a
9-yard touchdown catch by Eddie Kennison. Trent Green capped a
64-yard drive in just over a minute with his third touchdown pass.
One play earlier, referee Tom White called a personal foul on
rookie Travis LaBoy for a hit to Green's helmet. But LaBoy clearly
hit Green on the shoulder.
"I am disappointed in the performance of Tom White and the job
he did officiating that game," said coach Jeff Fisher, who as
co-chairman of the NFL competition committee rarely criticizes
officials. "You've got to let players play."
The teams combined for 925 yards, 233 by Titans receiver Drew
Bennett, a career high and the most in the league this season.
Bennett, a converted quarterback, caught three touchdown passes
from Billy Volek, who threw for a career-high 426 yards in
replacing the injured Steve McNair.
Undermanned Tennessee (4-9) gained 542 yards and lost on a night
that even featured a snow shower in the Music City.
The Titans had gone ahead 38-35 when rookie Randy Starks pounced
on Tony Richardson's bobbled handoff at the Kansas City 17, and
Gary Anderson kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:39 remaining. Then
the Chiefs, who got two long touchdown runs from Larry Johnson,
"I was excited, I was pumped," Johnson said. "As soon as I
got my chance and my shot, I did everything I had to do and break
They completed the scoring on Kawika Mitchell's 39-yard return
of a fumble as the Titans messed up a lateral play with 8 seconds
No, not all such shenanigans work in Tennessee's favor.
The Titans lacked nine starters, including McNair, last year's
co-MVP, when the game began -- and lost three more during it. Still,
they led much of the night and came back to tie it 35-35 on a
4-yard TD reception by Derrick Mason moments before Green's
exchange with fullback Richardson fell to the ground.
"I don't know if I can say I've ever been around a team that
fought like this team fought today," Fisher added. "For them to
overcome what they had to overcome from an injury standpoint, I
just can't say enough about that group of guys."
Johnson, who has emerged from coach Dick Vermeil's doghouse with
a burst, had TD runs of 46 yards in the third quarter, then 41
yards for a 35-28 lead with 4:49 to go. He rushed for 104 overall
on only seven carries in place of injured star Priest Holmes.
A strong second half allowed the Chiefs to overcome Bennett, who
easily bettered Denver's Rod Smith's 208 yards against Atlanta on
Oct. 31. Bennett, who needed intravenous fluids at halftime, set
the season high for yards with a nifty move on a fade pattern for a
7-yard touchdown early in the second half. That gave the Titans a
"I felt I could beat the DB every time," Bennett said. "I
didn't feel our offense in general could be stopped."
But Johnson broke his 46-yard run, the longest of his two-year
career, just two plays after the kickoff to tie it.
"He's grown up a lot and he did an outstanding job," Vermeil
Tennessee then really got creative on fourth-and-1 from the
Chiefs' 46. Craig Hentrich dropped back to punt, but most of his
blockers lined up toward the right sideline. Snapper Ken Amato
snapped the ball to Troy Fleming behind that wall and Fleming ran
for 13 yards.
The Titans should have saved it, because they wound up punting
Perhaps tired from all the ground they were covering, both
offenses slowed in the fourth quarter until Johnson's decisive TD
and the strange ending.
"We did a great job that last drive calling plays," Vermeil
said. "Trent made a few and Eddie Kennison made the play and we go
home with the win."
Tennessee's Chris Brown went over 1,000 yards rushing for the
season on the opening series, but he fumbled twice. He had a 1-yard
TD run before leaving at halftime with a recurrence of his turf toe
injury; he gained 91 yards.
Kennison also had a big night that featured a 58-yard TD
reception as both defenses kept losing track of opposing receivers.
"I don't know how many yards they got," Vermeil said, "but
they got a lot."
Just not enough to win.
Tony Gonzalez passed Kellen Winslow for third among tight
ends in career catches with 542. He had seven for 76 yards. ... It
was the longest regulation game of the season: 3 hours, 42 minutes.
... Volek completed 29 of 43 passes, while Green was 18-of-32 for
244 yards. ... Brown now has 1,067 yards rushing. ... Titans TE
Erron Kinney hurt his left ankle and had to be helped out of the