With his Tennessee Titans trailing thanks to missed field goals and an extra point in the final minutes of Monday night’s game, the club knew it was in good hands with Ryan Tannehill at the controls when the offense took possession with 3:05 left at its own 10 yard line.
Tannehill, of course, engineered a 12-play, 83-yard drive that resulted in Stephen Gostkowski earning some redemption and the Titans earning a season-opening win with his 25-yard field goal.
Since Tannehill has taken over as Tennessee’s starting quarterback, he has led now four fourth-quarter comebacks in his 11 regular season starts.
“I think it builds the more times you’re in that situation and overcome it, obviously it solidifies you as a team,” Tannehill said of the Titans’ been-there, done-that, can-do-it again approach.
But that doesn’t just happen, Tannehill pointed out. A good portion of training camp and practice is spent in such situations, preparing for when it comes up on game day.
“Just the way we prepare throughout training camp, we put ourselves in a lot of those two-minute situations. Coach (Mike) Vrabel puts us in a lot of those two-minute situations, so we have a lot of reps banked up,” Tannehill said.
One thing is clear about the drives: The Titans have full confidence in Tannehill that he can produce the desired results in such situations. Receiver Corey Davis, who had 101 yards on seven catches Monday night, said as much right after the game.
“It was one play at a time. That’s what (Ryan) kept repeating. We knew that we had to take it one play at a time. We knew when we got the ball at the 10-yard line we could take it all the way down, and guys bought into that, and that’s what we did,” Davis said.
Vrabel said that the Titans’ confidence on offense and especially late in games is something that carried over from 2019 into the season opener.
“That's something that's carried over from last year that we've continued to work on. I think that's the only way that you can build confidence and trust in things, is by repeated experiences and not that you'd like to be in those situations, but you're going to find yourself in those situations where you're going to have to move the ball down the field, or get a stop, or come up with a big play and be locked in situationally, but also be able to perform. I felt like the entire team did that when presented with it,” Vrabel said.
Tannehill the confidence the Titans have in each other is part of the equation for getting late-game heroics done.
“We believe in each other. There’s an undying belief in each other that we’re gonna make it happen. There was no panic on the sideline. There was a definite clear-cut expectation for what we were about to do, but there was a lot of confidence in one another that we were able to go make on play at a time and eventually win the game.,” he said.
And Tannehill doesn’t shy away from having to be the leader in those situations. In fact, it something he says goes with the job description of being an NFL quarterback.
“That’s my job. It’s part of being a leader and being the quarterback is to kind of set the tone and the mentality of the offense with the mindset of how we approach things. I definitely take pride in that and hope to be able to transfer that calmness that focus, intensity and confidence into the guys around me,” he said.