Biggest takeaways after Titans’ 2021 season comes to an end

A look at the biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s divisional-round loss to the Bengals.

Tennessee Titans fans are waking up this morning to the harsh realization that Saturday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals wasn’t some nightmare they had last night. Sadly, it was very real.

The abrupt end to this season is about as crushing a blow as Titans fans have been dealt in some time, and that’s saying a lot.

After all, expectations were riding high for a Titans team that had overcome so much during the regular season to win the No. 1 seed, and was finally at full strength at the most important time of the year.

But the Titans ended up not meeting those expectations. While the defense held up its end of the bargain, the offense did not, a scenario that has been played out countless times all season long.

But there’s no sense in dwelling on the past at this point. It simply won’t change what occurred on Saturday. What we can do is look ahead to the offseason, and we’ll start doing that right here.

Titans’ winners and losers from divisional-round loss to Bengals

It’s hard to call any Titans player a “winner” after Saturday’s loss, but there were some individual performances that deserve recognition.

After all of the adversity the Tennessee Titans had to go through this season, it seemed like there was nothing this team couldn’t overcome, but on Saturday the team wasn’t able to overcome its poor play on offense.

The Titans’ offense got off to an ominous start after Ryan Tannehill tossed an interception on the first play of the game. That was a sign of things to come, as Tannehill threw two more, which made all the difference in this game.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Tennessee’s defense was good overall, but the pass-rush really shined, notching nine sacks, tying a playoff record, and three of those came from Jeffery Simmons alone.

Thanks to the defense and in spite of the offense’s putrid showing, the Titans still had multiple opportunities to take the lead late in the fourth quarter but were unable to get the job done, which allowed the Bengals to steal a win.

While it’s hard to call anyone a “winner” after a season-ending loss like that, there were some players who really stood out with their individual performance and deserve some recognition.

We take a look at those players and the player and coach who came out of this game as “losers” following the Titans’ 19-16 defeat at the hands of Cincinnati.

What Ryan Tannehill, Titans said after divisional-round loss to Bengals

Ryan Tannehill was among the Titans players to speak following Saturday’s loss to the Bengals.

The Tennessee Titans’ season came to an abrupt, devastating end on Saturday after they fell to the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round, 19-16.

The story of the game was the poor performance of Ryan Tannehill, who missed multiple throws and tossed three interceptions, all of which were serious momentum killers.

It also didn’t help that Tennessee saw shoddy play-calling from offensive coordinator, Todd Downing, which has been an issue all season long.

Tennessee’s pass-rush was historically good in this game, notching nine sacks and tying the single-game playoff record. There were no doubt some blemishes on defense overall, but the unit did more than enough.

Even with all of their issues, the Titans had two cracks at taking a late lead with the game tied at 16, but they squandered both opportunities, paving the  way for Cincinnati to ultimately win the game on a last-second field goal.

After the game, the shock the Titans players were feeling was palpable. Here’s a look at what Tannehill, head coach Mike Vrabel, and other Titans had to say about the crushing defeat.

Twitter reacts to Titans’ crushing divisional-round loss to Bengals

Much of the postgame conversation rightly centered around Titans QB Ryan Tannehill.

The Tennessee Titans had serious Super Bowl aspirations when their playoff journey began on Saturday, but those aspirations were crushed after the team fell to the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round, 19-16.

As has been the case all season long, Tennessee’s offense got off to a slow start and was not good overall, but the defense did all it could to keep the Titans in this game, mostly on the strength of nine sacks, tying the single-game playoff record.

Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the Titans’ putrid offensive showing.

Ryan Tannehill played poorly to say the least and tossed three back-breaking picks, one of which came on the first play of the game, another in the red zone, and the final one on the Titans’ final offensive series that put the Bengals in position to win the game.

Despite all that, the Titans still had a chance to win the game late, but that final pick ended their hopes for good, as the Bengals would kick the game-winning field goal just plays later.

After the clock struck zero and the Bengals were winners, Titans Twitter was understandably devastated by the loss and there was no shortage of opinions about whether or not the Titans have hit their ceiling with Tannehill.

Tennessee Titans’ divisional round Player of the Game: A.J. Brown

A.J. Brown and Jeffery Simmons were the peak performers for the Titans in their divisional-round loss to the Bengals.

On a day when the Tennessee Titans’ offense couldn’t get much going, wide receiver A.J. Brown stepped up to give his team a chance, but it was all for naught with the Titans losing 19-16 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Brown provided plenty of juice for the offense, reeling in five receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown. His yardage total broke the record for the most receiving yards in a playoff game in franchise history.

Taking it a step further, Brown’s three biggest catches of the day (40, 41 and 33 yards) came on each of the Titans’ three scoring drives, with his 33-yarder finding pay dirt in the third quarter to tie the game up at 16.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that the Titans were keen on making Brown one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL with a new contract at some point down the road, and he showed why on Saturday.

Honorable mention: Jeffery Simmons

In reality, the entire Titans front four deserves some love after tying the single-game playoff record with nine sacks and keeping the team in this game, but Simmons was the best of the bunch.

Big Jeff was disruptive all game long, both against the pass and run, and tallied three of Tennessee’s nine sacks. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the offense.

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Titans’ season ends with loss to Bengals: Everything we know

The Titans’ season came to an end with a 19-16 loss to the Bengals in the divisional round.

The Tennessee Titans’ 2021 season is over after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 19-16, in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The game was a microcosm of what we’ve seen for much of the season: the Titans’ offense was not good outside of a few plays, and the defense did all it could to save the day.

Unfortunately, the defense’s effort simply wasn’t enough to overcome Tennessee’s offensive blunders, which included three interceptions by Ryan Tannehill, who was flat-out awful in this game.

Despite all their issues, the Titans were in position to win this game late. With the game tied at 16, the Titans had the ball with under two minutes remaining, but Tannehill’s pass was tipped and picked, setting the Bengals up for their game-winning field goal, which they went on to hit just plays later.

Now, if you can stomach it, let’s take a deeper dive to see what went wrong for the Titans.

Washington fans enjoy Eagles and Cowboys losing

The Eagles and Cowboys lost Sunday, giving Washington something small to cheer for after a disappointing 2021 season.

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Sunday was sort of a gift for Washington fans.

Although Washington lost four of their final five regular-season games, failing to qualify for the NFC playoffs, Washington fans enjoyed Sunday’s first two Wild-Card games when the Eagles fell to the Bucs 31-15 and then the Cowboys came up short in Dallas (23-17) to the 49ers in a thriller.

In Tampa, the Eagles were simply outplayed from the opening whistle. Tom Brady led the Bucs on two long early touchdown drives to lead 17-0 at the half.

Two third-quarter Eagles turnovers then resulted in Brady’s two-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski and one of 36 yards to Mike Evans, and it was 31-0 Bucs.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the 49ers leading 23-10, Jimmy Garoppolo threw a terrible interception to the Cowboys’ Anthony Brown. Five plays and 28 yards later, Dak Prescott scored from five yards and Dallas who had trailed 23-7, now only trailed 23-17 with 8:02 remaining.

After forcing a San Francisco punt, Dallas drove 56 yards in five plays; however, the final play Prescott had decided to run up the middle for 17 yards to the 49er 24-yard line.

Chaos ensued; the Dallas offensive line hurried to the apparent new line of scrimmage, and got set. But the official whose duty it is to mark the ball for the next play, had difficulty as the Cowboys’ lineman unknowingly did not make room for him to enter to establish the spot for the next play.

The Cowboys consequently, lost two or three seconds, and time expired, not permitting Prescott to stop the clock with an incomplete pass. Had he been permitted to dump the ball, it would have allowed the Cowboys to have one final pass attempt from 24 yards.

Yes, of course, for Washington fans the Eagles and Cowboys losing in the playoffs on the same afternoon was only a consolation prize, but a pretty good one at that.

 

Former Washington players see playoff action, Saturday

Two former Washington players were in action in Saturday’s playoff game between the Raiders and Bengals. How’d they do?

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Former Washington running back Semaje Perine and former wide receiver DeSean Jackson both saw action in the NFL playoff game in Cincinnati between the visiting Las Vegas Raiders and the home team Bengals.

In the fourth quarter, Bengals running back Joe Mixon appeared to turn an ankle, grimaced in pain, looked to the sideline, then proceeded to take himself out of the game.

Perine entered the game with the Bengals leading 23-16. Perine then got an early carry for two yards, and cameras displayed Mixon getting his ankle re-taped over on the sidelines. Mixon indeed returned, and Perine would be limited to the single carry.

DeSean Jackson made a big play for the Raiders Saturday. The Raiders were trailing 26-16 in the final quarter on their own 44-yard line facing a fourth & 5 with 4:27 remaining.

QB Derek Carr from the shotgun formation took the snap and appeared to have looked for Jackson and no other receiver on the play. Carr found and connected with Jackson on a crossing route over the middle for a huge 26-yard gain to the Bengals’ 30-yard line.

On the previous Raiders’ possession, Carr found Jackson for a 35-yard gain; however, a holding penalty against Alex Leatherwood negated the huge Jackson gain for a first down into Cincinnati territory.

Jackson also found himself in the news twice this week at the close of Week 18 of the regular season. When Washington back Antonio Gibson and receiver Terry McLaurin both went over the 1000-yard mark for the season, they became the first Washington duo to do so since the 2014 duo of Jackson and Alfred Morris.

Also, in the season’s final week, Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith eclipsed the 2008 Eagles rookie record for most receiving yards set by Jackson.

Finally, in Saturday’s playoff loss at Cincinnati, Jackson also dropped a deep Derek Carr pass in the first half for the Raiders.

Perine was a fourth-round draft choice by Washington in 2017 and spent two seasons with the WFT. Washington signed Jackson as a free agent in 2014, and he spent three seasons in D.C. In two of those three seasons, he went over 1,000 yards receiving.

Titans’ top PFF grades and stats from Week 18 win over Texans

Anthony Firkser earned the Titans’ highest overall PFF grade in Week 18.

After the Tennessee Titans notched a huge win over the Houston Texans in Week 18 to secure the No. 1 seed and a first-round by, we’re taking a look at the team’s Pro Football Focus grades and stats from Sunday.

Taking the top spot in terms of overall grade on the entire team (minimum 10 snaps) is tight end Anthony Firkser, who scored an 87.8 after reeling in five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.

The 56 yards were a season-high for Firsker, who has made some important catches in recent weeks after a mostly quiet 2021 campaign.

On defense, defensive lineman Denico Autry earned the top overall grade, notching a 78.2. Autry put together one hell of a regular season and has proven to be a crucial addition to the defense.

Now, let’s take a look at the top 10 overall Pro Football Focus grades for the Titans on both sides of the ball, as well as other key stats that give some insight into how the secondary and offensive line performed.

Analyzing Titans’ snap counts from Week 18 win over Texans

After Rashaan Evans logged just three snaps in Week 18, it appears there has been another changing of the guard at ILB for the Titans.

The Tennessee Titans were close to as healthy as they’ve been all season long in the Week 18 game against the Houston Texans, but they still had some key players to replace.

Along with running back Derrick Henry, who wasn’t activated off Injured Reserve, the Titans were also without defensive linemen Teair Tart and Naquan Jones, both of whom were ruled out on Friday.

There was also a big question in regard to how the Titans would divvy up the snaps at inside linebacker with everyone healthy. Well, we got our answer for that question on Sunday.

Let’s analyze the Titans’ Week 18 snap counts and see how they went about filling the aforementioned avoids, and we’ll talk about what appears to be another changing of the guard at inside linebacker, the second this season.

Plus, we’ll go over any other significant takeaways from Sunday’s win that clinched the No. 1 seed for Tennessee.