NASHVILLE – Ryan Tannehill beat himself up after the team's November 21 loss to the Texans.
After throwing four interceptions in a disappointing loss, the Titans quarterback took the blame, and vowed to be better. At the same time, those around him knew some of the ugly turnovers were hardly all on the QB.
Nonetheless, Tannehill's stat line 11 games into the season wasn't great – 13 touchdowns vs 12 interceptions jumped out for a guy who'd been much better in his first two seasons in Tennessee, when he threw 55 touchdowns vs only 13 INTs.
Since that first Texans game, Tannehill has been much better, and so have the Titans.
In the final six games of the regular season, Tannehill threw 8 touchdowns vs just 2 interceptions. In a Titans-Texans rematch on Sunday, Tannehill threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns as Tennessee clinched the AFC's No.1 seed. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for that performance.
On Wednesday, Tannehill was asked if he has gotten his mojo back.
"Contrary to popular belief," Tannehill said with a smile. "I never felt like I lost it. I felt good all season and I think we have done some good things here the last few weeks to catch our stride a little bit. Excited about the momentum we have gained over the last few weeks and hopefully we can build on it as we move forward."
Tannehill finished the regular season with 3,734 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, completing 357 of his 531 passes (89.6 passer rating). In doing so, he became the only quarterback other than Warren Moon (1989–1991) to record multiple seasons with at least 3,500 passing yards with the franchise.
Since joining the Titans in 2019. Tannehill now has a 32-15 record in the regular season and playoffs, and he's led the club to the playoffs each season. He is the franchise's first starting quarterback since Moon (1987 to 1993) to direct his team to the playoffs in at least three consecutive seasons.
Now, the Titans are preparing to host a Divisional Round playoff contest the weekend of January 22-23 against an opponent to be determined this weekend.
Tannehill, who guided the Titans to the AFC Championship Game in 2019 after directing playoff wins against the Patriots and Ravens, knows what's at stake.
"(If) you don't come and have your best football, there are no do-overs," Tannehill said. "It is not like you get another one next week. You have to come, execute, make the plays necessary to win the game, otherwise you are going home. There is a lot on the line, but at the end of the day it is a game so don't make it more than it is. But, know we have to play our best ball in order to keep going."
Tannehill and the rest of the Titans are using this week to get mentally and physically ready for what's ahead.
Like it or not, Tannehill knows how much playoff performances define a quarterback.
"I think you want to play your best football late in the season and into the playoffs," Tannehill said. "I know the reason we play this game is to go and win a championship. That is the reason I play. I am chasing after it year after year, day after day, and trying to do everything I can to not skip steps in getting there. We have an opportunity here and you don't want to look past it. Don't want to miss any steps along the way and do everything we can to go win it."