Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill fired four TD passes in leading the Tennessee Titans past the Houston Texans, allowing Tennessee to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Ryan Tannehill redeemed himself for his poorest performance as a Titan back in November by firing four TD passes against the Houston Texans Sunday in leading the Tennessee Titans to a 28-25 victory and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Tannehill, who was intercepted four times against the Texans back on Nov. 28, hit four different receivers for scores, as the Titans clinched the first-round bye by turning back a spunky Texans team that rallied from down 21-0 at the half to twice pull within three points.

“I'm proud of the way we kept fighting, and I feel like we can build on the good things we did as we did in the next couple of weeks as we move forward,” Tannehill said.

In claiming the victory, the Titans (12-5) got a huge performance from their starting quarterback, who finished 23 of 32 for 287 yards and those four scores.

Tannehill was his most clutch when the Titans needed it. For a quarterback, who has had an up-and-down year statistically, the victory and clinching the top seed certainly trumped any personal accolades.

“At the end of the day, I play to win games. It'd be nice to get recognized, but I'm not worried about it. I'm worried about finding ways to win games and to be great in the big moments,” Tannehill said.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel liked Tannehill's poise in the pocket on Sunday.

“His ability to keep to keep some plays alive in the pocket, he was really cool. He took care of the football. All the credit goes to the players and Ryan obviously,” Vrabel said.

Tannehill found Anthony Firkser for a touchdown from 5 yards out in the first quarter to give the Tennessee a 7-0 lead. That lead grew to 14-0 when Tannehill hooked up with A.J. Brown in the second quarter on a 14-yard score.

The Titans got the football back with 54 seconds left in the half, and thanks in part to a pass interference call at the 4-yard line, setting up first and goal, scored another TD when Tannehill hit Nick Westbrook-Ikhine with 11 seconds to go in the half.

That seemingly comfortable lead, however, proved not to be quite as safe as the Titans might have thought.

With the passing performance of rookie Davis Mills, who threw for 301 yards Sunday, the Texans roared back, cutting the lead to 21-10 with a TD pass and a field goal in the third quarter.

In the final period, the Texans got a touchdown throw from Mills to Danny Amendola and a two-point conversion early in the quarter to get within 21-18.

“We were really struggling defensively,” Vrabel said. “Give them a lot of credit, but then give us credit for battling back.”

Much of that “battling back” came courtesy of Tannehill, who answered with what might well have been his best drive as the Titans quarterback. He somehow scrambled out of a third-down sack and found Westbrook-Ikhine for a 36-yard gain that got the Titans back on track offensively. Tennessee did not have a single first down in the third quarter.

“The guy kind of wrapped me up, but I felt a little bit of space, because it wasn't a strong hold. I just kept fighting and twisted out of there and was able to make a play,” Tannehill said.

The Titans were able to cash in later in the drive when Tannehill hit Julio Jones for a touchdown to give Tennessee a 28-18 cushion.

“His toughness continues to show up, and I think that's what you have to have in this league to play quarterback,” Vrabel said.

Houston battled back, with Mills again finding Amendola for a TD with four minutes left, cutting the lead to three points again. But the Titans were able to put the game away, thanks to Dontrell Hilliard getting two crucial first downs that allowed Tennessee to run out the clock and lock up the top seed.

“We took care of business and put ourselves in good position, but that's all it is is good position,” Tannehill said. “We have to go out and play our best football here in the coming weeks. That's what great teams do. That's what the team that ultimately wins the whole thing will to is play their best football and win games in January and February.”

Thanks to Sunday's win and the bye, that quest begins for the Titans in two weeks.