Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers did not get off to an ideal start for the Tennessee Titans.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was carted off with an injury during the first quarter, per Jonathan Jones of CBS. The setback was deemed an ankle injury, and it put rookie Malik Willis temporarily under the spotlight.
However, the starter returned in a rather surprising development during the second quarter.
Tannehill missed Tennessee's Week 8 win over the Houston Texans and Week 9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with an ankle injury earlier this season.
The Titans didn't ask Willis to do much in those games, as he attempted a combined 26 passes as the team looked to rely on Derrick Henry and the rushing attack as much as possible. The rookie has completed just 41.2 percent of his passes for 157 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception as a thrower this year.
Numbers like that surely don't inspire confidence, and the Titans are suddenly far from a lock to win the AFC South.
The Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and will be just one game back if the Chargers defeat the Titans. Jacksonville and Tennessee also face each other to end the season in Week 18.
Prior to this season, Tannehill has been durable of late.
He appeared in all 17 games last season and all 16 games in 2020 while helping lead his team to the playoffs both years. He may not be the long-term answer at quarterback for the franchise after it selected Willis in the 2022 NFL draft, but he is likely its best chance at competing in the playoffs this season.
That is what made his return to Sunday's game such a welcome development for a team looking to make a final push into the postseason.