Ryan Tannehill miracle thwarts Texans rally, saves No. 1 seed for Titans

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The Tennessee Titans had the AFC's No. 1 seed on lockdown at halftime on Sunday.

Or so it appeared.

After trailing 21-0 at the half, the Houston Texans reeled off 18 unanswered points in a valiant spoiler effort against their AFC South Rivals. But the Titans held on for a 28-25 win thanks to some clutch play from quarterback Ryan Tannehill down the stretch.

With the win, the Titans earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a bye week for Derrick Henry to continue to recover from a midseason foot injury. They may not have gotten there if not for a miraculous third-down conversion from Tannehill in the fourth quarter.

Tannehill escape act saves No. 1 seed

After three consecutive three-and-outs to start the half, the Titans were faced with a fourth on third-and-5 with 10:21 remaining. Tannehill took a shotgun snap and faced immediate pressure from Texans pass rusher Jacob Martin up the middle. Martin appeared to have Tannehill in his grasp for a sack. But Tannehill escaped, rolled to his right and found wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine wide open for a 36-yard gain and a first down.

Five plays and another third-down conversion later, Tannehill found Julio Jones for a touchdown in the back of the end zone to extend Tennessee's lead to 28-18.

The Texans would respond with another touchdown to keep the pressure on, but the Titans ran out the clock on their final possession to secure the win and a valuable week off in the playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile, are left to prepare for a game in the wild-card round following Tennessee's win. They would have secured the No. 1 seed with a Titans loss.

Derrick Henry gets an extra week to recover with Titans bye

For the Titans, it adds up to a best-case scenario after what looked like a devastating injury to Henry. The NFL's then-leading rusher suffered what looked like a season-ending Jones fracture in Week 8 that required surgery on his right foot. Instead, all signs point to Henry returning and rested for the playoffs.

The Titans activated Henry from injured reserve on Wednesday, giving them a 21-day window to activate him on gameday. They declined to play him on Sunday against the Texans. Now he'll have an extra week of rest for a potential divisional-round playoff game.

How much he'll be impacted by his injury if he does return is yet to be seen. But the prospect of a fresh Henry who hasn't taken a hit since Halloween suiting up is a daunting prospect for the rest of the AFC.

Jan 9, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) attempts a pass during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Tannehill made some big plays down the stretch against the Texans. (Troy Taormina/Reuters)
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