Johnson, White combine for 317, four TDs as Titans trample listless Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Tennessee Titans haven't been this good and the Kansas City Chiefs haven't been this bad in 31 years.
With Chris Johnson running for 168 yards and LenDale White 149, the Titans (6-0) remained the NFL's lone unbeaten team by rushing for a franchise-record 332 yards in a 34-10 blowout Sunday. The record that fell was set with 296 yards the Houston Oilers amassed on the ground against Kansas City on Nov. 27, 1977, almost two decades before the team moved to Tennessee.
The Chiefs (1-5) also saw a record take a tumble in what's shaping up as one of their worst seasons since moving to Kansas City in the early '60s. The 332 yards erased the record of 330 by the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers which had stood as the most ever allowed by KC.
"Your run game is a development of the way your team plays," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "The backs got a lot of extra yards on their own after contact."
White scored on runs of 6, 2 and 80 yards, the franchise's longest since 1983. Johnson had a 66-yard touchdown run that made it 34-3 late in the fourth quarter.
Without pausing as he crossed the goal line, Johnson went to the Chiefs band right behind the playing field and started banging his open palms on the drums, drawing a percussion penalty and prompting Fisher to promise "it will not happen again."
"I thought about it before the game, but coach Fisher talked to me and said I can't be doing that," said Johnson. "It's disrespect. I'm just trying to have fun. He didn't chew me out because it was a win."
It was the first time since 1977 that two runners had gone over 100 yards against the Chiefs, whose despair was deepened by a season-ending knee injury to brittle Brodie Croyle.
In the second quarter of his first appearance since injuring his shoulder in the season opener, Croyle hobbled away and was replaced by Damon Huard. The Chiefs' designated quarterback of the future has been injured four times in eight career starts and Kansas City will probably make finding a young quarterback a top priority among a swarm of other personnel needs.
Huard injured the thumb on his throwing hand and was replaced in the fourth quarter by Tyler Thigpen with 11:56 left. With Larry Johnson not active for disciplinary reasons, the Chiefs managed only 58 yards rushing.
"They hit some big runs at the end," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "Guys not playing their gaps and that's kind of been our Achilles' Heel from the beginning to right now. We worked on it all during the bye week and we thought we had some things corrected."
On White's 80-yard run and Johnson's 66-yarder, both men bolted through huge holes in the line and were virtually untouched.
"Obviously, some players didn't do what they were supposed to do," Edwards said.
After going seven straight quarters without scoring, the Chiefs got a field goal from Nick Novak and a 14-yard scoring run from Thigpen in the fourth.
"They were young and they made mistakes here and there," Titans defensive tackle Michael Ross said. "That's where we were three years ago."
Thigpen will probably start against the New York Jets next week if Huard is out.
"It was nice to get points on the board," he said. "We didn't want to get shut out again."
Kerry Collins, in the meanwhile, was taking no chances and hardly was hurried by a Kansas City defensive line which has not recorded a sack in six games. The veteran who replaced an injured Vince Young in the first game was 11-for-18 for 123 yards.
Until Thigpen got hot at the end, the Chiefs' only spark was provided by a player who spent the off week trying unsuccessfully to get traded to a contender. Tony Gonzalez had six catches for 97 yards, including a spectacular leaping grab for 28 yards in the final seconds of the first half.
"Everybody was talking about us having a trap game," said Tennessee linebacker Keith Bullock. "Thirty-four, or whatever the score was, shows how focused we were."
Rod Bironas kicked a 49-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 46-yarder in the third, stretching his streak to 18 in a row. Since the Titans began their streak of nine straight wins going back to a victory last year over Kansas City, Bironas has not missed a field goal or an extra point attempt.
Emmitt Thomas, a KC cornerback in the '60s and '70, was honored before the game for his recent enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. ... The Titans have allowed only two sacks all year. ... Gonzalez was given a big ovation during a timeout in the first quarter when the video board showed his career highlights and it was announced that he had broken the tight end record for yards receiving in KC's previous game. ... Novak's 39-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter appeared to sail directly over the left upright, but officials ruled it no good. The crowd booed loudly as replays on the video board seemed to show the kick was good.
- Gene Steratore
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