NASHVILLE -- Heading into overtime last Sunday, Ryan Tannehill found himself in a familiar position.
Once again, the Tennessee Titans needed their quarterback to guide them on a game-winning drive.
Once again, Tannehill did just that … even if it was on his second try, and, well, didn’t actually require him to throw a pass.
With the Titans beginning their second overtime drive at the Seattle 39-yard line, Tannehill simply handed the ball to Derrick Henry four straight times, and Henry’s 21 yards were enough to set Randy Bullock up for a game-winning 36-yard field goal.
Degree of difficulty aside in the Seattle contest, Tannehill has turned into quite the maestro when it comes to directing game-winning drives.
In just 28 regular-season starts since 2019, Tannehill has now produced 10 game-winning drives – defined as when a quarterback’s team scores on an offensive possession to put the team ahead for good in the fourth quarter or overtime. That is the most in the NFL since 2019, ahead of Las Vegas’ Derek Carr (nine), Buffalo’s Josh Allen (eight), Seattle’s Russell Wilson (eight) and Arizona’s Kyler Murray (seven).
He has connected on 34-of-44 passes (77.3 percent), for 431 yards (11.7-yard average) and three touchdowns on those possessions. For good measure, he’s also run for two touchdowns.
“He has a good grasp on what we’re trying to do, and the process in trying to get us into the plays as quickly as possible,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “I think that it is everybody knowing it. Getting the receivers, whoever catches it, doing what they are supposed to be doing to get the ball back, to get lined up, to get in the formation, the linemen to get the protection, to get set, to snap the football.”
One more point: Remember that Tannehill’s totals on game-winning drives don’t count the numbers he’s produced on game-tying drives, like the one he led late in the fourth quarter last Sunday. In that instance, Tannehill hit 7-of-7 passes for 58 yards, as the Titans drove 68 yards and tied Seattle 30-30 with under a minute left in regulation.
“I think it is crucial to stay level in those situations,” Tannehill said of late-game drives. “Obviously it is an intense, big moment in the game, it is make-or-break. Everyone feels that pressure, but I think it is important for me to remain steady and exude that confidence to the guys that we are going to go out and make this happen.”
With the most recent having occurred just a few days ago, we decided to rank his 10 game-winning drives with the Titans. We took into account a variety of factors, like importance of the game, time left on the clock, what Tannehill’s contributions were on the drive – and more.
Here’s what we came up with:
• No. 10: Sept. 19, 2021 at Seattle
The situation: The score was tied 30-30 when the Titans took over at the Seattle 39 with 7:19 left in overtime.
What happened: Tannehill didn’t even need to throw a pass. Instead, he handed it to Henry for four consecutive runs. Bullock’s 36-yard field goal gave the Titans a come-from-way-behind 33-30 victory with 4:50 left in overtime. As referenced above, Tannehill’s real heavy lifting came in the game-tying drive, when he steered the Titans 68 yards to a touchdown – 58 of those yards coming through the air.
• No. 9: Sept. 20, 2020 vs. Jacksonville
The situation: The score was tied 30-30 when the Titans took over the ball at their own 40 with 3:29 left in the game.
What happened: Tannehill completed only two-of-four passes for 10 yards. But it was also a throw to Anthony Firkser that resulted in a critical pass-interference penalty – and a first down -- on a third-and-5 play. Three players after the penalty, Tannehill and Firkser connected for five yards to Jacksonville’s 31, where Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 49-yard field goal that gave the Titans a 33-30 victory.
• No. 8: Oct. 18, 2020 vs. Houston
The situation: The score was tied 36-36 when the Titans took over at their own 18 with 9:56 left in overtime.
What happened: This was a wild game, and the Titans had tied it when Tannehill hit A.J. Brown for a 7-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds left in regulation. The Titans won the overtime coin toss, and two plays into the drive, Tannehill connected with Henry on a short pass. Henry rumbled 53 yards to Houston’s 27, and after a short Tannehill completion to Jeremy McNichols, Henry scored on a five-yard touchdown run to give the Titans a 42-36 victory.
• No. 7: Sept. 27, 2020 at Minnesota
The situation: The Titans trailed 30-28 with 3:42 remaining when they took possession at their own 19.
What happened: Tannehill jump-started the drive on the first two plays, hitting tight end Jonnu Smith with back-to-back completions for a combined 25 yards. He completed only two more passes during the drive, the last one for one yard to Adam Humphries to the Minnesota 37. That was enough for Gostkowski, who nailed a 55-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining, giving the Titans a 31-30 victory.
• No. 6: Oct. 20, 2019 vs. L.A. Chargers
The situation: The score was tied 10-10 with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter when the Titans took over on their own 15-yard line.
What happened: Tannehill made sure his very first start for the Titans was a memorable one, as he guided his team on an 85-yard touchdown drive that ended in the fourth quarter (making it a game-winner) and put Tennessee up for good at 16-10. Tannehill connected on six of eight passes on the drive, for 76 yards and a touchdown. He converted three third downs along the way, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tajaé Sharpe. The Titans used a great last-second defensive stand to hold on, winning a 23-20 game that would turn their season around.
• No. 5: Oct. 27, 2019 vs. Tampa Bay
The situation: The Titans trailed 23-20 when they took over at their own 10 with 13:49 to play.
What happened: Tannehill and the Titans got going quickly with completions of 17 and 20 yards to Smith. Eventually, however, they faced third-and-8 at the Tampa Bay 8. Tannehill hit Brown for the game-winning touchdown, capping a 90-yard drive and giving the Titans a 27-23 lead – which held up -- with seven minutes left in the contest. Tannehill went 9-for-11 for 85 yards and the touchdown.
• No. 4: Sept. 14, 2020 at Denver
The situation: The Titans trailed 14-13 with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter when they took over at their own 10.
What happened: Despite the fact Gostkowski was 0-for-3 on field goals at that point (he also missed a PAT), the Titans still had a chance to win. Starting 90 yards away from the Denver end zone, Tannehill connected on back-to-back passes for 17 yards. He eventually connected on five of seven for 40 yards on the drive – and also earned a pass-interference penalty – to guide the Titans to the Denver 7. Gostkowski connected from 25 yards with just 20 seconds left to give the visitors a 16-14 victory.
• No. 3: Nov. 22, 2020 at Baltimore
The situation: The score was tied 24-24 with 7:58 left in overtime when the Titans took over at their own 27.
What happened: Tannehill completed three passes for 36 yards. Each went for a first down – two to Corey Davis and one to A.J. Brown. Those throws set up Henry for a game-ending 29-yard touchdown run that gave the Titans a 30-24 road victory.
• No. 2: Nov. 10, 2019 vs. Kansas City
The situation: The Titans trailed 32-27 with 1:21 left in the contest, when they took over the ball at their own 39.
What happened: Tannehill went to work immediately, scrambling 18 yards for a first down. After an incompletion, he hit Firkser for a 20-yard gain. And with just 23 seconds left, Tannehill absorbed a wicked hit as he delivered a throw to Humphries for the game-winning 23-yard touchdown. Just for good measure, Tannehill ran in a two-point conversion that gave the Titans a 35-32 win. The victory sparked a four-game win streak that earn a playoff berth.
• No. 1: Jan. 3, 2021 at Houston
The situation: The game was tied 38-38 with 18 seconds left when the Titans took over at their own 25.
What happened: It looked like this one was headed to overtime when Houston’s Kai Fairbairn tied the contest with just 18 seconds left. But on first down, Tannehill hit Brown for a 52-yard gain to the Houston 23. Two plays later, Sam Sloman’s game-winning field goal went off the upright and through, giving the Titans a 41-38 victory and their first AFC South title since 2008.