A year ago a this time, many of the Tennessee Titans players had little or no playoff experience.
It didn't stop them from making a deep run to the AFC Championship Game.
But this year, as the Titans get ready for the postseason again on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, some day that the experience of a year ago can be beneficial this time around.
Saffold was one of the few Titans with postseason experience a year ago when Tennessee made a surprise run to the AFC Championship Game with wins over New England and Baltimore.
“You kind of know what you're getting into. Everything ramps up a little bit the playoffs. It's do or die. It's win or go home,” said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was in that group of Titans who tasted the postseason for the first time in 2019.
Guard Rodger Saffold, who had prior playoff experience from his days with the Los Angeles Rams said the 2019 run can be used as a learning tool for the Titans this year. But he also knows that postseason life is very delicate and can be gone in an instant.
“It's going to be great to have experience. It's going to take away the nerves and the anxiety. All that helps,” Saffold said “This team is really focused. They're using last year's experience to their advantage. We know nothing is given to us.”
Saffold is banged up, and did not finish Sunday's regular season finale against Houston due to an ankle injury, but has pledged that he will be in the lineup against the Ravens.
Tannehill appreciates such an approach, and said that with the playoffs, there is no time for saving it until later. Every available man will be up and ready to go in the Wild Card round.
“You'd like to think you lay it on the line each and every week but there is no save it for next week or if you get a little banged up, maybe heal up next week. It's do or die at this point. Everyone is laying it on the line and doing everything they can to win,” the quarterback said.
Of course, the Titans and Ravens are no strangers, having met in the playoffs a year ago in the division round and having played in the regular season in November with Tennessee winning both games. Those wins game by very different means. In the postseason last year, the Titans jumped out to an early 14-0 edge in the first half, and then dictated how the game would go the rest of the way with Derrick Henry's rushing leading the way, on his way to 195 yards on the ground.
In November, the Titans found themselves trailing 21-10 in the third quarter following a Lamar Jackson touchdown pass, only to rally from 11 down, and win it in overtime, thanks in large part to a big game from Tannehill and receivers Corey Davis and A.J. Brown. Henry's 29-yard OT run won the game, but the passing attack fueled a comeback for the Titans.
Tannehill said Wednesday it was big because it showed that the Titans can win in come-from-behind mode, even thought hat is not necessarily their preferred M.O.
“It’s huge. You never know how the game is going to go play out. We've been in every type of game throughout this year. You always want to be able to start fast and then stay ahead and then push the whole way through. But sometimes it doesn't work out that way,” Tannehill said.” But if you can mentally and physically weather the storm and keep fighting, keep believing each other and making plays, then you give yourself a chance. Like I said, you want to start fast and be able to play from ahead the whole game. If it doesn't happen that way, then we have the mental fortitude to believe in each other and keep fighting and find a way to win.”