Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill may have been the best player on the field Tuesday night, as he led his team to a dominant 42-16 victory over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills. The Titans are now 4-0 for just the second time in franchise history, and join the Pittsburgh Steelers as the final two remaining undefeated AFC teams.
It’s an especially impressive feat considering the Titans have dealt with an outbreak of positive coronavirus tests within the team, which forced them out of action for two weeks and pushed the Bills game to Tuesday night. Yet, they haven’t missed a beat thanks in part to the steady leadership of their 32-year-old quarterback.
Tannehill completed 21 of 28 passes against the Bills for 195 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He added another 42 yards on the ground, including his 10-yard score at the end of the second quarter to give his team a 21-10 lead.
He’s now thrown nine touchdowns with only one interception so far in 2020, and his 110.8 passer rating ranks fifth among NFL QBs. And he’s 11-3 as a starter since Week 7 of 2019 after the team’s 2-4 start.
In his press conference after Tuesday’s game, Tannehill told reporters how proud he was of his teammates for overcoming the potential distractions and preparing themselves for a game mentally and physically.
“What this team, what this organization has been through over the past couple weeks, to really fight through that, shake it all off, really limited practice, limited reps, and go out and put this kind of win together, I think it makes a statement,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m happy that we were able to do that today.”
Many NFL pundits, and certainly those within the Titans organization, believe the team is capable of another deep postseason run.
Last year, Tannehill’s first in Tennessee, they upset the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens on their way to the AFC Championship Game before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Tannehill came off the bench for Marcus Mariota in Week 6 to lead the team to a wild-card playoff spot.
The 2019 season was a year of improvements on the field for the Titans, but also a time of immense spiritual growth for many players off of it. Tannehill faced the personal tragedy of his father-in-law, John, unexpectedly passing away a week after Tannehill’s first start with his new team.
He said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in February that, although John’s death left lasting pain for him and his wife, Lauren, he believed God would work ultimate good through it all.
“Through that, we had to trust that His timing is perfect and His will is perfect,” Tannehill said. “You may not agree with it. You may not like what happened, but someone is changing. There’s going to be growth, and His Kingdom is going to be glorified through that.”
He seeks to carry that faith with him in the locker room so that the lives he touches as a team leader would be directed toward God.
“I’ve always kind of viewed the locker room as my mission field,” Tannehill said on the podcast. “Wherever God calls you, that’s where God calls you to be a missionary for God and impact the lives around you. Everybody has their own way of doing that, and I think first and foremost you gotta live it out.
“Guys are watching, especially in a leadership position, guys are watching and listening to how you walk daily. What are you representing on the daily? Always try to be conscious of that and reflect God’s light and shine into the paths of everyone around me.”
For his on-the-field efforts in 2019, Tannehill won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and was named to his first Pro Bowl. He signed a four-year extension in March to return to the Titans.
Tannehill and his team will look to continue their undefeated start at home on Sunday against the 1-4 Houston Texans. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on CBS.