NASHVILLE — For all the adversity overcome by the Tennessee Titans (12-6) this season, their ability to conquer themselves remains unmatched. Petering out as the No. 1 overall seed 19-16 against a surging Cincinnati Bengals squad (12-7) will do little to assuage that reputation.

There is no disputing that Tennessee choked away a legitimate chance at a Super Bowl run.

19 years is has been since City of Nashville saw a playoff win in now Nissan Stadium. The Titans offensive blunders ensured that Titans fans would not see that streak end against this season. A number of things make the failure all the more perplexing, least of which the situations that Todd Downing’s play-calling and Ryan Tannehill’s interceptions seem to put them in.

Now, Tennessee’s brass will have plenty of time to reevaluate what got them bounced out of the postseason.

The Titans go as far as Ryan Tannehill will take them

Nothing about that statement has changed.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) hands off to running back D’onta Foreman (7) during the fourth quarter of an AFC divisional playoff game at Nissan Stadium Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

When Tannehill signed a four-year, $118 million contract with the Titans before the 2020 season, there was no disputing that he had earned it. And, despite being the biggest reason for their crash-and-burn Saturday against the Bengals, he will remain their quarterback in 2022. Tennessee cannot cut Tannehill due to his salary cap situation.

To facilitate the completion of the Titans trade for former Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, the Titans restructured Tannehill’s contract for 2021 to create more than $15 million in cap space. Doing so allowed the financial flexibility to add the star wide out. It also ballooned the quarterback’s 2022 salary cap hit to $38.6 million with a dead cap hit of $57.4 million.

Tannehill is here to stay next year.

“The defense played a heck of a game, really dominated,” said Tannehill. “It was really fun to watch them play. We didn’t make enough plays to win it. This hurts, hurts bad. I didn’t think we would be having this conversation right now. It was not my vision for the game at all. We had an opportunity at the end and there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to go down and get points.”

The reality of the situation is that they actually did make enough plays on offense win, and that is why it should hurt Tennessee even worse.

Running back D’Onta Foreman’s 45-yard run from the Tennessee 46 was enough. Derrick Henry’s “King Cat” keeper touchdown was too. Hell, even the absolute dime Tannehill dropped into wide receiver A.J. Brown for a one-handed score was a play good enough to stifle Cincinnati. Much less, the defense that accumulated an NFL record-tying nine sacks in a single postseason game and kept the Bengals from scoring a second half touchdown.

Tennessee Titans running back D’onta Foreman (7) runs the ball during the third quarter of an AFC divisional playoff game at Nissan Stadium Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn.

Whether we have seen Tannehill peak with the Titans is a question that seems impossible to answer until his time is finished.

The reality of the situation is that for the better part of three seasons, there has been precious little reason to have questions about the quarterback in Tennessee. The argument can be made that the switch from Marcus Mariota to Tannehill in 2019 salvaged this iteration of the Titans team. Heading into the offseason, there are legitimate questions about how much farther he can take them with a roster largely stacked with talent.

No one has to tell Tennessee fans how miserable not knowing whether you have a legitimate quarterback or not can be.

Featured Image: USA TODAY Sports.