Chiefs vs. Titans: Game Takeaways

Here are a few things to take away from the loss to the Titans on Sunday

After a disappointing performance on Sunday afternoon, the good news is there are still plenty of games left for the Chiefs, albeit tough ones.

The first is next Sunday, a game in Denver against the Broncos, and there are plenty of things the Chiefs need to improve upon.

While key injuries to linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito (both of whom ruptured their respective Achilles tendon) won't help matters, Chiefs coach Andy Reid has been a proponent of the "next man up" philosophy all season long, regardless of the injury's magnitude.

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"You know my philosophy on that," Reid said after the game when asked about not having Derrick Johnson. "He's a great player, but I expect other players to step up and do the job. When given the opportunity, we want that to happen."

Like not having receiver Dwayne Bowe or offensive lineman Donald Stephenson due to their suspensions for Week 1, losing Johnson and DeVito hurts, but that doesn't mean other players can't step up and play well enough for the Chiefs to find the success they're looking for.

Let's take a look at a few things regarding the Chiefs loss to the Titans on Sunday.

Top Offensive Play

The Chiefs struggled for much of the day offensively—it's no secret.

But tight end Travis Kelce and Alex Smith did hook up for one picture-perfect throw-and-catch early in the second quarter.

Off the play-action, Smith hit Kelce as he was bracketed between two defenders with a perfectly-placed ball. This wasn't the norm for Sunday afternoon, but the success the Chiefs found with Kelce in the preseason once again showed up on this play, highlighting Kelce's athletic ability to get down the field.

In the coming weeks, Kelce could be a big key in getting this offense consistently moving the ball down the field.

Top Defensive Play(er)

This is more about Dontari Poe's performance throughout the entire game than it is a particular play, although there were a couple of times Poe flashed athleticism not normally seen from a guy his size.

One of those plays was on the Titans first offensive play of the game, where Poe took down former Chiefs offensive weapon Dexter McCluster, who finished the game with nine rushes for 29 yards (3.2 yards per carry).

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Poe showed throughout the game what made him such a special player in 2013, when in just his second NFL season, he became a household name across the NFL and earned his first Pro Bowl honor.

While injuries to DeVito and Johnson will clearly hurt the defense moving forward, the Chiefs still have three healthy Pro Bowlers in Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali to compliment what Poe can do on the defensive line.

On Sunday, Berry led the team in tackles with 15 and Houston finished the game with two sacks.  

Top Special Teams Play

The 15- and 30-yard punt returns by Frankie Hammond deserve consideration for this mention, but the top special teams play for the Chiefs in this game was an individual effort.

Early in the game and before anyone had scored, Dustin Colquitt launched a 50-yard punt from the Chiefs own 30-yard line.

McCluster took the punt from his 20 and was tackled by Chris Owens after losing two yards.

Chiefs fans are familiar with how difficult it can be to tackle McCluster in space, and Owens did a great job bringing down McCluster when at the time was a big play.

It's not much in the grand scheme of the day but plays like this are often forgotten, and they deserve their credit because corralling McCluster isn't an easy task.

Photos from the Chiefs week one game against the Titans.

Reviewing "Five Things to Watch"

1. Handling Horton's pressure

The Chiefs offensive line gave up four sacks against the Titans. There were a few stunts by the Titans defensive line that resulted in pressure on Smith, as well as some blitzes where players came free from the second level.

2. Controlling LOS on offense

Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey found his way into the backfield early in this game, which forced Jamaal Charles out wide on a few runs in the first quarter.

Chiefs running backs combined for 11 rushes for 31 yards. 3. Taking advantage of opportunities

One of the key plays in this game was a fumbled kickoff by the Titans forced by Chiefs special teams ace Anthony Sherman. The Titans recovered the ball deep in their own territory, but it was a huge opportunity for the Chiefs to give themselves a short field and they weren't able to come up with the ball. 4. Corralling Jake Locker

Locker's longest scramble came on an 8-yard scamper.

Locker completed 66 percent of his passes and didn't appear to need to leave the pocket a lot to make plays with his feet. Although two of his runs, an 8-yard run late in the second quarter and a 6-yard run early in the third, both preceded points for the Titans. 5. Eliminating big plays from big three

Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter combined for 13 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs.

It was Hunter's 39-yard pass to begin the second half that set up the Wright touchdown reception, extending the Titans lead to 17-3 at the time.

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