Ryan Tannehill on Titans' path to No. 1 seed in AFC: 'It hasn't always been perfect and pretty'

It's been a wild ride for the 2021 Tennessee Titans, who battled through injuries to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

After starting the season 2-2, Tennessee ripped off six straight wins, including victories against the Bills, Chiefs and Rams. Then they stubbed their toe, losing three of four. But a three-game win streak to end the season has the Titans hot heading into Saturday's Divisional Round bout versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

The up-and-down season saw just three Titans offensive players start all 17 games in the regular season. Tennessee had skill-position players miss 112 games in the regular season (most in the NFL). And still, the Titans finished with a 12-5 record.

"I love doing that and I'm proud of our guys and the way we've ... fought through a lot and continued to find ways to win," Tannehill said, via the Associated Press. "So it hasn't always been perfect and pretty -- it's football, it never is. So the fact that we can continue to find ways to win has been a lot of fun."

The Titans' brand of football might not be the prettiest, which is the reason the No. 1 seed isn't getting the same publicity as the Bills and Chiefs in its own conference.

But when healthy, Tennessee boasts the talent to play with the best. Following the bye week, the Titans are as healthy as they've been in months, with star running back Derrick Henry scheduled to return to the lineup Saturday.

The Titans are 11-2 in the 13 games that A.J. Brown has played, and one reason is that Tannehill has been significantly more efficient on downfield passes (10-plus air yards) with Brown than he has been without the big wideout.

Tannehill's 89.6 passer rating in the regular season was his lowest since 2015, but he generated a 100-plus passer rating in each of the last three games after logging a 100-plus passer rating in just three of his first 14 games this season.

Saturday's matchup offers a bout of contrasting styles in the Titans' rough-and-tumble ground game against the Bengals' high-flying pass attack. Cincinnati averaged 259.0 pass yards (7th in NFL), had 36 pass TDs (T-7th), and averaged 102.5 rush YPG (23rd) with 16 rush TDs (T-14th). Tennessee averaged 201.1 pass YPG (24th) and had 22 pass TDs (19th) while averaging 141.4 rush YPG (5th) and netting 23 rush TDs (T-3rd).

While these Bengals are new to the postseason, Tannehill and the Titans have been here before.

"Hopefully it helps a little bit. You have been there before. The experience is not new," Tannehill said. "At the end of the day, you have to go out and execute and play well."

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