-- KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Tennessee Titans' first playoff win since 2003 erased lingering questions about coach Mike Mularkey being fired after the season, but after the game, he was upset that it had come to this.
For the second consecutive week, Mularkey's job security was the main topic on the morning of the biggest game for the franchise in nine years. An emotional Mularkey called having to hear those reports "ridiculous," and he was upset with the Titans organization for letting them linger.
"I don't think it's fair to my family," Mularkey said after the Titans came back to beat the Chiefs 22-21 in his first playoff appearance as a head coach. "When it has an effect on my family, it has an effect on me. So it had a big effect on me."
NFL Network reported Saturday morning that Mularkey could be fired with a loss Saturday. The same ominous report came out prior to the Titans' win-and-in Week 17 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Titans were preparing for a playoff game, but there was no word from the decision-makers in the organization about Mularkey's job security. Mularkey said he didn't feel that his job was safe.
"I haven't had any support to say I was," he said. "I just assumed the worst."
It seemed significant that Mularkey, a family-oriented man, spent several minutes before the game taking pictures and soaking in the moment with his wife, Betsy.
After Tennessee's win, several Titans players defended the job Mularkey has done with the team, which included leading it to its first playoff berth in nearly a decade.
"Coach Mularkey had done an incredible job of handling this entire situation, and I think he's done a great job of keeping this team together, keeping us focused on our task at hand," quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "He's done a great job."
Mariota's Year 3 regression is one of the biggest reasons there were questions concerning Mularkey's job security. The young quarterback, who played well in his first playoff game, has been supportive of the coach throughout the season.
Mularkey is 18-14 as the Titans' full-time head coach since taking over in January 2016. He will be entering the final year of his contract once Tennessee's season is over. Mularkey said a couple of weeks ago that he had no talks with the team about an extension.
"That's crazy. You heard of that on Mularkey? That man has put us in great position to be successful. I'm happy to have him as a head coach," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "Good Lord. I can't believe people talking about him losing his job."
Tight end Delanie Walker added: "I always had faith in Mike. When he was trying to get the job, I was the one that had his back. I wanted him here. I knew his philosophy. I knew what he was going to bring to this team, and you can see it."
Mularkey has brought this team to places it hasn't been since 2003. He wishes those inside and outside the organization would give him more respect for that.
"It's a lot of outside noise. People say that and this. He does a good job of making sure we stay focused and don't pay attention to the outside noise," running back Derrick Henry said. "Just keep doing what we're doing, quietly work, go [about] our business the right way. Practice hard, work hard and go out there and get a win. That's what we did today. That's us."
The Titans will head to New England or Pittsburgh next week for the divisional round.