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Chiefs Make Titans Pay for Their Mistakes

Chiefs 49, Titans 38

From News Services
Tuesday, December 14, 2004; Page D05

NASHVILLE, Dec. 13 -- Two of the league's most disappointing teams put on quite a show in prime time.

And after all the wild plays and big offensive numbers Monday night, a phantom penalty, followed by a nine-yard touchdown catch by Eddie Kennison, lifted the Kansas City Chiefs past the undermanned Tennessee Titans, 49-38.

Chiefs' Johnnie Morton celebrates touchdown in front of Titans' Scott McGarrahan in the second-highest scoring Monday night game ever. (John Russell -- AP)

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Trent Green capped a 64-yard drive in just over a minute with his third touchdown pass. One play earlier, he was aided immensely by a personal foul on rookie Travis LaBoy for a hit to Green's helmet. But LaBoy clearly hit Green on the shoulder.

The teams combined for 925 yards, 233 by Titans wide 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.

Tennessee (4-9) gained 542 yards and lost on a night that even featured a snow shower in the Music City.

The combined point total was second in "Monday Night Football" history to the 95 points scored in Green Bay's 48-47 win over Washington in 1983.

"We were both in the playoffs last year, and for one reason or another we're not in the playoffs this year, but that doesn't mean we can't play good football," Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil said.

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 minute 39 seconds remaining. Then the Chiefs (5-8), who got two long touchdown runs from Larry Johnson, surged back.

They completed the scoring on Kawika Mitchell's 39-yard return of a fumble as the Titans messed up a lateral with eight seconds left.

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 at 35 on a four-yard touchdown reception by Derrick Mason moments before Green's exchange with Richardson fell to the ground.

Johnson, who has emerged from Coach Dick Vermeil's doghouse with a burst, had touchdown 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 yards 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 set the season high for yards with a nifty move on a fade pattern for a seven-yard touchdown early in the second half. That gave the Titans a 28-21 lead.

But Johnson broke his 46-yard run, the longest of his two-year career, just two plays after the kickoff to tie it.

That's when Tennessee really got creative. On fourth and one 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 had to punt anyway.

Perhaps tired from all the ground they were covering, both offenses slowed in the fourth quarter until Johnson's decisive touchdown and the strange ending.

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