JOE BIDDLE: Titans kick Chiefs

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Mister Irrelevant, huh?

The last player taken in the 2009 NFL Draft?

Meet Titans kicker Ryan Succop.

Succop was the 256th player drafted that year. And who drafted him? The Kansas City Chiefs.

He spent five solid seasons with the Chiefs. He had four 100-point seasons with Kansas City. He made 81 percent of his field goal attempts. But the Chiefs released him on Aug. 30, 2014. The Titans wasted no time in signing him as a free agent on Sept. 2, 2014.

The Titans welcomed him. Sunday in a game that began one-degree above zero and warmed only to five degrees in Arrowhead Stadium, Succop was the difference.

The joke turned out to be on Kansas City.

The eight-year veteran who played at South Carolina made the most memorable kick of his life.

When all appeared lost for the Titans, Succop was their final breath of air. The Titans had exhausted their time outs. They had battled their brains out, knowing the relevance of the game.

The Titans trailed until the final second. Late in the fourth quarter, rookie running back Derrick Henry ran across the goal line from a yard out. It made the score 17-16 in Kansas City’s favor.

Titans Coach Mike Mularkey decided to go for broke on a two-point play. I thought it was the right call. They had fought and clawed to get that close.

I didn’t like the call for quarterback Marcus Mariota to attempt a pass. It failed under the Chiefs all-out rush. It had no chance. It was not one of Mariota’s best days, with an interception, a sack, a fumble. He had a quarterback rating of 48.8.

Here’s why I second-guess the call.

If you call your team an exotic smash-mouth team all season, why not put it in the hands of your offensive line and either DeMarco Murray or Henry. If you can’t make two yards on the ground, don’t call yourself a smash-mouth team.

These Titans were not going to quit. Their defense, which played big boy football in the conditions, stopped the Chiefs on a three-and-out possession just after the two-minute warning.

The clock was not on the Titans’ side. They had 75 yards to make a touchdown, less than that for a winning field goal. They got 19 yards on a completion to Rishard Matthews. Mariota hit Delanie Walker, who took the ball into the Chiefs end of the field.

Succop lined up a 53-yard attempt. He was all they had left. The Titans spiked the football, leaving only five seconds on the game clock.

Succop would either win or lose the game.

Chiefs Coach Andy Reid called a time out just as Succop kicked the ball. It was straight, but fell short of the goal post. With the weather conditions, it was like kicking a concrete football.

It turned out to be in the Titans’ favor. The former South Carolina kicker and all-state soccer player from Old Hickory, N.C. has what it takes. Reid failed to ice him.

Succop put more leg and air in his next attempt and it split the uprights, sending Succop, his teammates and Titans fans everywhere into a state of ecstasy.

19-17, Titans.

It may not rank up there with the Music City Miracle. It will be remembered for a long time. There have not been many memorable moments since the Music City Miracle.

It was their 8th win, the most since 2011.

They have two regular season games left. Those games will decide what kind of job Mularkey, his staff and players did. They have learned how to win close games and the future is promising.

Next week they go to Jacksonville, where the Jags fired Coach Gus Bradley Sunday. Conditions promise to be more temperate in Florida. The finale will be against Houston at Nissan Stadium. If they beat the Jaguars, Houston will be the most important game of the season.

It’s all up to the Titans.

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at joebiddle11@gmail.com.