Ryan Tannehill and a cornerback activated off injured reserve only a week ago helped make the Chiefs pay for their fifth and sixth attempts.
Tannehill threw a 23-yard touchdown to Adam Humphries with 23 seconds left, and Joshua Kalu blocked a last-second field goal attempt to beat the Chiefs 35-32 to spoil the return of NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.
“It’s fun to win a game like that, battle back in the fourth quarter at home and find a way to win is a ton of fun,” Tannehill said.
The Titans (5-5) got the chance after a bad snap by the Chiefs on Harrison Butker’s fifth field-goal attempt of the day. Kansas City coach Andy Reid blamed communication on the snap for taking holder Dustin Colquitt by surprise, and he threw away the ball in desperation for an intentional grounding call, setting the Titans up at their own 39.
Tannehill scrambled for 18 yards, hit Anthony Firsker for 20 yards and then found Humphries, who ran in for the TD. Tannehill also ran for the 2- point conversion for a 35-32 lead.
The Chiefs (6-4) had a final chance with Mahomes. He drove them down, setting up Butker for another field-goal try from 52 yards.
Kalu blocked the kick with his left hand, and the Titans ran onto the field to celebrate. Kalu, who wound up at the bottom of a pile, said he kept getting closer each time watching the Chiefs’ cadence, hands and eyes. The block was a blur but not his decision to jump at the snap.
“As soon as I hit it, it was automatic joy,” said Kalu, recently activated from injured reserve.
Reid, now 1-8 all-time against Tennessee, said he wanted to see a replay of the blocked field goal because he thought Kalu was offside. But Reid took the blame for the loss.
“We were in position to close it, and we didn’t get that done,” the coach said. “My responsibility. Then we were too sloppy.”
Derrick Henry ran for 188 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown that put Tennessee up 20-19 with 5:58 left in the third. His 1-yard TD with 6:26 remaining pulled the Titans within two points at 29-27.
Tannehill finished with 181 yards passing and rushed for another 37 yards.
The loss spoiled the best passing game this season for Mahomes, who helped the Chiefs outgain the Titans 530-371. He threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
Mahomes’ best play came with the pocket collapsing around him. He jumped up to throw over the linemen to Mecole Hardman, who ran for a 63-yard score with 11:54 left to give the Chiefs a 29-20 lead.
“The knee feels fine, and I’m glad to get through another game,” said Mahomes, whose knee and ankle had been troubling him the past month.
Mahomes looked very healthy while playing for the first time since dislocating his right kneecap on Oct. 17.
He got lucky when his first pass that was first ruled an interception was overturned by replay. Officials said Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro trapped the ball on the ground. Mahomes then capped the Chiefs’ first drive with a 3-yard shovel pass to Travis Kelce.
The Chiefs sacked Tannehill four times and forced a fumble but could only turn that into one of Butker’s four made field goals.
Tannehill got the Titans going with a 52-yard throw to Kalif Raymond then hit Anthony Firkser for a 9-yard TD.
Titans rookie linebacker David Long forced a fumble by Damien Williams and linebacker Rashaan Evans picked up the ball, juked away from Mahomes and ran 53 yards for a TD and a 13-10 lead with 6:14 left in the second quarter.
Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan apologized for leading the Titans in penalties, including a trio Sunday. He said no needs to call him out on having a team-high nine in six games after being suspended for the first four.
“It’s not intentional,” Lewan said. “I do not mean to do it. My intentions are good. I’m just trying to finish and it’s killing the team.”