Everything bad that can happen to an NFL quarterback happened to Marcus Mariota in the Tennessee Titans Friday night 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons marched the ball down the field in their first possession and quickly put the Titans down seven zip before they turned the stage over to the rookie quarterback.
After an interception, a sack and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, a lot of new quarterbacks would have been a deer in the headlights, but not the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, he got pissed!
“I could tell he was (ticked) because of the situation, not really anything that was out of control,’’ coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ”But you like that, the competitor in him…I am not concerned about Marcus, you can tell he doesn’t get flustered.”
On the next possession, Mariota picked himself up, dusted himself off and showed me that the Titans made the right decision in the draft, made the right decision to make the former Oregon Duck the face of the franchise, and made the right decision in making him the day one starter.
After he woke up from the early nightmare, Mariota led a 10-play 86 yard drive that ended with a six yard touchdown run by Dexter McCluster. The rookie was 5 for 5 during the scoring drive with no interceptions.
Marcus Mariota’s night was done, and the rookie went 7 of 8 for 94 yards, one interception, one sack and one fumble. He finished with a passer rating of 76.0 before turning the game over to Zach Mettenberger.
“It was an incredible experience to say the least,’’ Mariota said. “To be able to step on the field with the Titans organization, that’s special, and I enjoyed every moment of it. There’s some things we can learn from and get better from, but at the same time I was able to enjoy the moment and I’m looking forward to next week.”
Not only did Marcus Mariota impress his coaches during his come-back, he also impressed his teammates.
“He is a gamer,’’ Douglas said of Mariota. “He is one of those guys who is calm, and you want that out off a player. Marcus is level-headed, so he knows how to handle situations.”
Said receiver Kendall Wright” “Marcus found a way to calm himself down. No one said anything to him. And once he got into a groove I think he did pretty good.”
I watched this game to completion and was impressed by two things. After getting down by 17 points early, this team never gave up. They made a lot of mistakes, but were able to get the score tied before giving up a late touchdown for the loss.
A Charlie Whitehurst touchdown was called back for pass interference, or the final score may have been a different story.
Secondly, I saw something else in this team that I don’t remember much of last year, and that was excitement. The Tennessee Titans have succeeded in putting a product on the field that can bring some excitement to fans this fall.