Marcus Mariota led the Tennessee Titans by the Cincinnati Bengals 24-20 on Sunday, extending their win-streak to four games. The former Duck great connected with DeMarco Murray for the game-winning score with 36 seconds left in the contest.
After tossing his first touchdown pass of the afternoon, Mariota finished his day 25-of-44 for 264 yards and an interception. His hamstring looked significantly better, rushing for 51 yards on six carries. Mariota finished one yard shy of tying for a game-high (52).
Mariota’s longest rush of the game went for 28 yards. This season, his longest scamper came against the Houston Texans (55) and DeShaun Watson.
The Titans offensive line was struggling against the Bengals’ pass rush. In fact, Cincinnati reached him on four separate occasions, totaling a loss of 28 yards on the four sacks.
The Titans were leading 17-13 at the half, but the running game was not developing for either team. Tennessee couldn’t open the playbook much with their backfield duo of Murray and Derrick Henry combining for 93 rushing yards on 25 total carries.
With 5:03 remaining in the game, Tennessee found themselves trailing 20-17. Mariota drove his team 73 yards on 13 plays. On the 13th play, Mariota dumped it off to his running back who did the rest on 3rd down.
The drive was highlighted by a 20-yard completion to his tight end Delanie Walker.
Walker continues to lead the receivers for Mariota. From our time watching him star at Oregon, we know that Mariota never forces it to one receiver. Yet, the Titans want to see what they have with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Corey Davis.
Mariota funneled passes to his rookie wideout throughout the contest. A.J. Green may have walked away with best receiving day (five catches for 115 yards and a TD), but Davis was the most-targeted player on the field (10). With Marcus, he could be special.
The Titans reported that Mariota has a sore (non-throwing) shoulder plus a “mild” sprained ankle. He was limited in practice on Monday, but was confirmed “good to go” for Thursday Night Football by Tennessee head coach Mike Mularkey.
This illustrates the issue of TNF in general. After the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman endured a season-ending achilles injury last week, the NFL can not afford to lose another superstar of the league due to a short recovery time between games.
How about two Monday Night Football games each week? Start the first at 4:00 p.m. PT and the second at 7:30 p.m. PT. Sorry if the east coast can’t hang that late, but it seems like a better idea than the one in place currently. TNF is not helpful to players.
Marcus Mariota Season Stats
154-of-248 pass completions
62.1 percent completion percentage
1,783 passing yards
7 passing touchdowns
7.19 yards per pass
55 yards (season-long pass completion)
32 rush attempts
181 rushing yards
3 rushing touchdowns
5.7 yards per carry
34 yards (season-long rush)
0 red zone interceptions
Next up for the AFC South-leading Titans (6-3) are the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2) on Thursday Night Football. The marquee match-up between first place teams kicks off at 5:25 p.m. PT from Heinz Field. You can watch the game live on NBC.