NASHVILLE – After head coach Mike Vrabel wrapped up his post-game press conference on Sunday, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed him on the way to the podium.
"Great job, Ryan," Vrabel said to Tannehill after Tennessee's 27-23 win over the Buccaneers.
Tannehill thanked his coach, and then proceeded to pick up a bulky tape recorder as he stood behind the podium himself, before looking around the room for the device's owner.
"I hope this has some special powers," Tannehill said with a smile, "because this thing is huge."
Tannehill might not have displayed super-powers on Sunday, but once again, he got the job done, especially when it mattered most .
In his second start with the Titans this season, Tannehill threw three touchdown passes on Sunday, and he now has 505 passing yards and five touchdown passes in his first two starts since replacing Marcus Mariota as the starter.
Tannehill directed a game-winning drive late, setting up the defense to get a pair of critical stops.
"Every time you can get a win in this league, it is going to be huge for you," Tannehill said. "We just have to keep improving, keep finding a way to win games. Today was ugly at times – the defense played their tails off and came up huge with the takeways to put us in great field position. The offense was able to take the plays to capitalize to get in the end zone once we got down there. It was ugly at times for the offense, but I felt like in the red zone we were good – we got in the end zone when we were down there."
Tannehill completed 21-of-33 passes for 193 yards with the three touchdown passes, and he finished with a 109.8 rating. It came a week after Tannehill completed 23-of-29 passes for 312 yards with three TD passes and a 120.1 rating in a win over the Chargers.
Tannehill threw touchdown passes -- to tight end Jonnu Smith (eight yards), receiver Tajae Sharpe (six yards) and receiver A.J. Brown (eight yards) -- in Sunday's win, the final one coming with 6:55 left to give the Titans the lead. It capped off a 12-play, 90-yard drive that put some offensive frustrations during the middle portion of the game in the background.
"I have to go back and look at the tape and see where I can be better at," Tannehill said. "I know I had some opportunities and we just weren't able to finish on some connections.
"But guys kept plugging away, just kept finding a way. We got down to the fourth quarter when we really needed it and put a big drive together and got in the end zone."
Tannehill knows the offense must improve, however.
At the half, the Titans had just 70 yards of offense and five first downs. The Titans managed just 246 yards of offense and 16 first downs in the contest and went just 5-of-13 on third down (38 percent).
Tannehill was sacked three times in the game.
Smith led the Titans with six catches for 78 yards and the score, and tight end Anthony Firkser had three catches for 43 yards. The Titans receivers were quieter on Sunday, however, as Corey Davis was held to just two catches for nine yards and Adam Humphries (3-24), Sharpe (3-18-1) and Brown (2-11-1) had quieter days compared to last week vs. the Chargers.
But most important, the Titans found a way to win again.
"It's something we can build on," Tannehill said. "Obviously today was ugly at times. I feel like I need to be better, need to be more consistent throughout the game. We need to be able to sustain drives throughout the game. Offensively we weren't good enough in my opinion – the defense really bailed us out, put us in some good spots and we were good in the red zone.
"We did some good things today, but I feel like we need to be more consistent and put more drives together throughout the game."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8 of the 2019 season at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)