While it sounds crazy to say out loud, the Tennessee Titans realized at some point last Saturday that they didn’t need more than 14 points to beat the New England Patriots.
Their game plan was heavy on Ryan Tannehill handing off to Derrick Henry. Tannehill had 72 yards passing and the Titans won, putting him on a strange list. Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, only 11 quarterbacks, with a minimum of 10 attempts, have thrown for less than 80 yards in a playoff win according to Pro Football Reference. Since the end of the 1999 season, only three quarterbacks have pulled that off: Mark Brunell (Washington vs. Tampa Bay, 2005 playoffs), Joe Flacco (Baltimore vs. New England, 2009 playoffs) and Tannehill.
That worked last week. Presumably the Titans are going to need a lot more from their quarterback on Saturday night as they face Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
Tannehill had a remarkable season for the Titans. But his track record and Saturday’s middling game will leave people wondering if he can do enough to lead another upset.
Ryan Tannehill had quiet playoff game vs. Patriots
Tannehill didn’t play that poorly against the Patriots. He was 8-of-15 for 72 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He just wasn’t a big part of the game plan. And he didn’t do all that much on his opportunities, outside of a nice touchdown pass to Anthony Firkser.
This week, he and the offense are going to need to do more.
“We know we’re going against a talented offense and it’s probably going to take more points than we scored last week to win the game,” Tannehill said. “But every week you’re looking to score more than 14 points.”
Before Saturday, Tannehill wasn’t a bystander. After he took over for Marcus Mariota, he played very well over the last 10 games of the season. He became one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to average nine yards per attempt while completing 70 percent of their passes, joining Sammy Baugh in 1945 and Joe Montana in 1989. Baugh and Montana were recently named to the NFL’s all-time team.
Yet, if you’re taking stock of the eight quarterbacks left in the playoffs, Tannehill is probably the one that inspires the least confidence. He was mostly written off after his time in Miami.
Tannehill on the spot at Baltimore
The Dolphins carried an $18.4 million dead cap hit just to dump Tannehill this past offseason. They traded him to the Titans. They were ready to move on, perhaps not realizing that poor coaching might have held Tannehill back. Either way, Tannehill was a top-10 draft pick and never panned out for the Dolphins.
It’s rare for a quarterback to break out at age 31. Because of the unusual path, Tannehill doesn’t seem like a sure thing despite playing well over his 10 regular-season starts. He’ll have a chance to prove himself again on Saturday night, against a very tough Ravens defense. Baltimore allowed 3,315 passing yards and 15 passing touchdowns, the sixth- and second-fewest marks, respectively, in the NFL this season.
It’s also a game that could be worth a lot of money to Tannehill. He is set to be a free agent after the season. You’d imagine the price tag will rise if he has a great game in an upset win over the top-seeded Ravens.
Unlike last week, Tannehill will be instrumental in the Titans’ game plan. We’ll see if that’s a good thing or not.
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