KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With Kansas City’s greatest one-year turnaround came great reward.
Three hours after racing past Tennessee 34-14 Sunday, the Chiefs became AFC West champions when Cincinnati upended four-time defending champion San Diego.
The Chargers’ loss gave Kansas City (10-5) its first division title since Dick Vermeil’s 2003 Chiefs went 13-3. The 10 wins in Todd Haley’s second season as head coach are six better than last year’s 4-12 mark and match the total of the past three miserable seasons combined.
“It just means we were just that bad last year,” guard Brian Waters said. “Our goal is to get to the next part of the season.”
They are there, although everyone around Arrowhead Stadium has been trying to avoid even saying the word “playoffs” all week. There was obvious pride in winning 10 games; in the Chiefs’ first 50 years, five wins had been the biggest one-year improvement.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, who threw three touchdown passes in the first half.
Cassel connected with Jamaal Charles for touchdowns on K.C.’s first two possessions and Eric Berry returned an interception 54 yards for another score as the Chiefs raced to a 31-7 halftime lead. Cassel hit 12 of his first 13 passes.
The Titans (6-9) spent much of the game dropping passes, missing arm tackles and piling up penalties while losing for the seventh time in eight games.
Dwayne Bowe had six catches for 153 yards, including a career-long 75-yard touchdown as the Chiefs remained unbeaten in seven home games.
“The game got out of reach early,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “You’ve got to execute to near-perfection when you get down like we were and we just didn’t do that.”
Chiefs 34, Titans 14
KC—Charles 14 pass from Cassel (Succop kick)
KC—Charles 5 pass from Cassel (Succop kick)
KC—FG Succop 35
KC—Bowe 75 pass from Cassel (Succop kick)
Ten—Britt 53 pass from Collins (Bironas kick)
KC—Berry 54 interception return (Succop kick)
KC—FG Succop 42
Ten—Cook 22 pass from Collins (Bironas kick)
|Total Net Yards||270||458|
|Time of Poss.||20:56||39:04|
RUSHING—Tennessee, C.Johnson 14-58, Collins 2-(minus 1). Kansas City, Charles 13-77, Jones 23-51, Cassel 3-20, McCluster 1-4.
PASSING—Tennessee, Collins 14-37-2-235. Kansas City, Cassel 24-34-0-314, Croyle 1-2-1-(minus 2).
RECEIVING—Tennessee, Cook 5-96, Britt 4-89, Washington 3-37, Williams 1-10, Hall 1-3. Kansas City, Bowe 6-153, Moeaki 5-63, Charles 4-40, Chambers 3-17, Castille 3-8, McCluster 2-15, Pope 1-10, Copper 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Kansas City, Succop 47 (SH).