NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The looks on the faces of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and other Tennessee Titans players said it all as they walked off the field after a crushing home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs last season.
After finishing the regular season as the top seed in the AFC and earning a first-round bye, the Titans had a golden opportunity to do something special, but it was swept under their feet.
With three interceptions in the 19-16 loss, Tannehill bore most of the criticism. He called the loss “brutal” and said it would take a long time to get over it.
• College rivalries spill over into the NFL locker room
• Chef Hoppie cooks for Cowboys stars
• Why DET, DAL play every Thanksgiving
• GB need WRs Watson with Doubs healthy
• Kevin O’Connell’s journey to becoming a Viking trainer
• Terrell gives back to Atlanta High School
“It’s a deep scar,” Tannehill said of the loss. “Every time I closed my eyes, I watched the game again. I haven’t slept much in weeks. I was in a dark place and it took a while, a lot of work, to get out of it.”
Tannehill revealed he went to therapy during the off-season to help him escape the dark place.
“Mental recovery is a big thing for all of us,” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel. “Our ability to deal positively and unfortunately negatively with things that have happened to us. Try to keep things in perspective and make sure we understand where we are right now.”
The recovery from such a devastating end to last season was bolstered by a draft-day trade that saw the Titans jettison Tannehill’s favorite pass catcher (and Tennessee’s leading pass catcher since he came to the league in 2019), as AJ Brown went to Philadelphia Eagles for 18th and 101st overall.
Tannehill promised to approach the season with a passion to win like never before. There were no drastic changes in his leadership style or preparation. According to Titans quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara, sticking with what he previously did has helped both Tannehill and his teammates.
“As a quarterback, as a leader, you have to be the same every day,” O’Hara said. “That way people know what to expect. That’s the only thing that stands out about Ryan. He’s been really consistent with his behavior and practice habits, how he prepares.”
Tannehill and the Titans (7-3) are trying to push it back, with the Bengals (6-4) taking on Nashville’s Nissan Stadium next Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Another crack at the Bengals, although the stakes are less this time, Tannehill looks like an opportunity for redemption. However, he does not go that route.
“That was last year and half of this team wasn’t even here,” Tannehill said of the duel. “It’s a new team against another new team. Of course we want to win this game, but it has nothing to do with last year.”
Tannehill is right. The Titans brought back just 29 players from last season.
But in eight games this season – missing two games with an ankle injury – Tannehill has shown shades of his old self. Tannehill has thrown four interceptions (1.9% of his passes), which is similar to the 2019 and 2020 seasons when he threw only six (2.1% of his passes) and seven (1.5% of his passes), respectively.
Tannehill’s 14 interceptions (2.6% of his passes) last season surpassed his previous two-year total with the Titans.
The timing for a rematch against Cincinnati is ideal for the Titans as Tannehill is coming off his best passing game of the season.
Tannehill threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 27-17 win over the Green Bay Packers. It was his most yards in a game since Week 2 last season when he threw for 347 yards against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rookie receiver Treylon Burks came alive in the Packers game, posting seven receptions for 111 yards. Burks went through his fair share of trial and error during the minicamp when he was faced with questions about his condition and asthma that kept him from attending.
Throughout it all, Tannehill has been a supportive force for Burks, showing confidence in the rookie from the start.
“He was really encouraging,” Burks said. “He always makes sure I’m in the right places. He just always had faith in me.”
Burks obviously didn’t play in last season’s postseason game, but his presence in the last two games after missing the previous four with a turf toe injury may have sparked two of Tannehill’s two best performances of the season.
That’s the confidence they’re hoping to build against the Bengals, whether it’s a redemption game or not.
https://www.espn.com/blog/tennessee-titans/post/_/id/32972/titans-tannehill-doesnt-see-bengals-matchup-as-a-revenge-game-from-playoff-loss Titans – Ryan Tannehill doesn’t see Bengals matchup as a revenge game – Tennessee Titans Blog