An examination of four hot issues from the Chiefs’ 26-17 win over the Titans:
Don’t hit the QB: The Chiefs received a huge break on their go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter when the Titans were penalized for a late hit against quarterback Alex Smith, who had scrambled and was heading out of bounds. Smith went out of bounds before the first-down marker on the third-down play, so the Chiefs would have had to punt. Tennessee’s Moise Fokou appeared to launch at Smith while he was still in bounds, but the call will almost always be made when a quarterback is involved. A Tennessee penalty on a similar play on Dexter McCluster’s punt return moments earlier was erased after officials determined the Titans player launched at him before McCluster had gone out of bounds. But, then, McCluster is not a quarterback.
Not playing like a rookie: Cornerback Marcus Cooper made a big contribution for the second straight game. He scored the game’s first touchdown when he recovered a punt muffed by the Titans in the end zone. He also intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal. The Chiefs claimed Cooper, a seventh-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers this year, off waivers a week before the start of the regular season. He started last week’s game for the injured Brandon Flowers and against Tennessee, he was the third cornerback instead of veteran Dunta Robinson.
Penalizing the defense: The Chiefs were penalized on defense three times against the Titans and it’s no coincidence the penalties all happened in Sunday's third quarter, their worst defensive period of the season. Tennessee had 153 yards in the quarter and scored 10 of their 17 points. Their last touchdown happened on the first play of the fourth quarter. Two holding penalties and another for pass interference allowed the Titans to continue two different scoring drives. The Chiefs had been penalized just four times on defense in the first four games.
Negative field position: The Chiefs had been thriving this season by winning the field position battle, but things were even in that department against the Titans. Each team started two possessions on its opponent’s end of the field. Average starting field position for both teams was the 29-yard line. In their first four games, the Chiefs had started 13 possessions in opposing territory while their opponents had started just one on Kansas City’s end of the field.