NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When it comes to NFL quarterbacks yards and touchdowns are sexy, but wins are the only stat that really matters. And Ryan Tannehill has turned the Titans into a bonafide contender since taking over the reins of the offense during the 2019 season.
Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota under center in week seven of that season and has gone 30-13 in the regular season. He’s 32-15 if you include the playoffs. The only two quarterbacks with more wins during that same span are Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Both the Packers and Chiefs have gone 34-9 during that time.
That might be a surprise to some of Tannehill’s critics who like to point out that he doesn’t rack up the same stats as some of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. But it’s no surprise to the teammates who know the 33-year-old QB best.
“Ryan’s been showing it all year,” receiver A.J. Brown said. “He’s been standing in the pocket, getting hit, delivering balls. He’s been showing toughness all year.”
Tannehill’s leadership was perhaps bet on display during the second half of Sunday’s 28-25 win in Houston. With the Texans roaring back into the game, the Titans faced a third and long and Tannehill made a Houdini-like escape from the oncoming pass rush and was able to find Nick Westbrook-Ikhine along the sideline for a 36-yard gain.
“Tannehill saved my ass on that,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said after the game. “Saved the whole game, but saved my ass. That was a cool play.”
A few plays later he hit Julio Jones in the back of the end zone for a touchdown that helped seal the win and secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the first time since 2008.
It was the latest big play from Tannehill, who finished strong, throwing seven touchdowns against zero interceptions as the Titans won their final three games, easing some of the national criticism levied on him when he had thrown a league-high 14 interceptions and the offense was slumping.
“Contrary to popular belief I never felt like I lost it,” Tannehill said of his midseason struggles. “I felt good all season and I feel like we’ve done some good things here the last few weeks to kind of get going, and hopefully we can build on it moving forward.”
Tannehill and the Titans will look to build on their strong finish with an offense that finally has A.J. Brown and Jones healthy together in the passing game, and expects to have Derrick Henry back for the playoffs.
In three trips to the playoffs over his career, Tannehill has compiled a 2-2 record, but he’s never had the luxury of a bye and the top seed before. But with that comes the pressure of needing to perform in the postseason, to silence the critics and prove he’s one of the NFL’s top QBs.
“The reason we play this game is to go win a championship,” Tannehill said. “It’s the reason I play, chasing after it year after year, day after day. And we have an opportunity here, so we want to do everything we can to go win it.”