The Tennessee Titans were left out in the cold Sunday — as were their playoff hopes.
With a 34-14 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Titans fell to 6-9 and were eliminated from the playoffs with just one week in the regular season remaining.
After getting off to a 5-2 start, the Titans lost six straight but still had a chance at the playoffs when they defeated the Houston Texans last week.
That slim playoff chance quickly faded away Sunday. The Chiefs (10-5) led 24-0 midway through the second quarter before the Titans finally scored.
Tennessee, however, had a chance to take some momentum into halftime. Down 24-7 late in the first half, the Titans reached the 50-yard line before the wind was knocked out of their sails again. Chiefs cornerback Eric Berry intercepted Kerry Collins' pass intended for Nate Washington. Berry, a rookie and former University of Tennessee standout, raced 54 yards to the end zone to put Kansas City up 31-7 with 22 seconds left before halftime.
The Titans will miss the playoffs for the second straight season. Since starting the 2008 season 10-0, they have compiled a 17-21 record, including the playoffs.
The Chiefs can clinch an AFC West title with a win against Oakland next week. Their 10 wins match their combined total of wins the last three seasons.
Less than three weeks removed from an emergency appendectomy, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel tore the Titans’ defense apart. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
Cassel completed 12 of his first 13 passes, guiding Kansas City to touchdowns on its first two drives. Cassel capped off both series with touchdown passes of 14 and three yards to Jamaal Charles, the second coming with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
The Titans’ first drive was promising as they reached Kansas City’s 37-yard line. But Collins’ fourth-and-six pass for Justin Gage fell incomplete. Tennessee failed to get a first down on its next three series — resulting in punts.
The Titans finally broke through when Collins connected with Kenny Britt for a 53-yard touchdown. On the play, Collins became the 12th quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 yards. Collins, who turns 38 on Thursday, completed just 14 of 37 passes for 235 yards, while recording two touchdowns and two interceptions. He connected with five different receivers but for the third straight game Randy Moss did not catch a pass.
After two 100-yard rushing games, Titans running back Chris Johnson was held in check, rushing for just 58 yards on 14 carries.
The Titans punted eight times and continued to struggle with time of possession as their offense was on the field only 20:56. They also committed nine penalties for 74 yards.
Tennessee can play the role of spoiler next week when it travels to Indianapolis to close out the season against the Colts, who were 8-6 prior to Sunday’s game at Oakland.
If Indianapolis, which beat Oakland 31-26 Sunday, defeats the Titans, they would win the AFC South.
However, if the Colts lose to the Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars win at Houston, both Indy and Jacksonville would finish 9-7 but the Jaguars would win the division because they would boast a better division record, 4-2 compared to 3-3.