The Tennessee Titans took care of business Sunday, defeating the Houston Texans, 28-25 Sunday, in a game that was a little closer at the end than perhaps they expected.
But the clutch play of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers, was enough as the Titans improved to 12-5 and now hold the top seed in the AFC Playoffs. With that comes both a first-round bye and home-field advantage for the Divisional Playoffs and the Conference Championship, if they make it to that point.
With the victory the Titans will now watch Wildcard Weekend to see who they will host once the divisional round begins.
“They don’t give you a hat or a t-shirt for anything like that (for being the top seed), but we’re in the elite eight. We’ve moved on to the second round of the playoffs without having to play a game,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We’ll take advantage of the time. We have to be great as coaches, great as our training staff, and our physical therapy and strength and conditioning. It’ll allow these guys to get some time off, but also to heal and get to work.”
The Titans seemingly had Sunday’s game in hand at halftime, jumping out to a 21-0 lead on the strength of three Ryan Tannehill touchdown passes. However, the Texans rallied back behind the passing of rookie quarterback Davis Mills, who twice brought Houston to within three points in the game.
But it was the savvy of Tannehill that kept the Titans in the lead and in control of their playoff fate.
Tannehill was able to engineer a fourth-quarter drive that started on a third-and-6 play where he spun out of a sack, and fired a pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for a key 36-yard gain.
“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.
That throw would eventually set up a 24-yard pass to Anthony Firkser, and eventually his fourth TD pass of the game — this one to Julio Jones that pushed Tennessee’s lead to 28-18.
Though the Texans answered back with another Mills touchdown pass to Danny Amendola, the Titans were able to run out the clock in the final minutes with two first downs.
The Titans will now use this time to practice and also to get healthy in preparation for the postseason.
“The first thing is going to be to use that time to get healthy. We started dropping late in the game, and then try to improve. We were really doing a lot of good things defensively and this will be a good week. We’ll be able to coach them hard, and they’ll respond to that,” Vrabel said.