What started out as a crazy week in Music City with the firing of Ken Whisenhunt, ended with the Tennessee Titans beating the New Orleans Saints 34-28 on Sunday afternoon in the Superdome. Marcus Mariota reminded everyone why the Titans spent the second pick in the 2015 Draft to bring him to Nashville.
More at Titan Sized: Something about the Superdome
Interim head coach Mike Mularkey gets a much-needed win in his Titans debut and the Titans equal their 2014 win total.
What started out as business as usual in the first quarter in the Superdome turned on a quirky play that started a comeback that left Drew Brees and the Saints scratching their heads and ended with the Titans getting out of the Big Easy with a 2-6 record.
The fortunes of both teams changed with a mistake.
In his first start since October 19th when he was injured against the Miami Dolphins, Mariota was attempting to throw the ball away and realized he didn’t throw it hard enough.
In the “Oh S#@t!” moment, the ball took two funny tips and found Delanie Walker for a 61 yard touchdown pass that changed the course of the game and was the longest of Mariota’s career as well as the longest for the Titans this season.
Be sure to read Paul Colter’s article about the Superdome mystic!
After that play, the defense tightened. The changes Mike Mularkey made after taking over on Tuesday kicked in, and the Tennessee Titans turned into the juggernaut we were expecting all season.
Before the magical play, the Titans took two big right hooks from Drew Brees and it looked like business as usual for the Titans.
In fact, it looked like a continuation of the Saints 52-49 victory over the New York Giants where Brees was hitting receivers all over the field and Mark Ingram was running at will. After the play, fortunes changed and it turned into a ball game.
After the game ended regulation tied 28-28, the Titans won the coin toss and wanting to keep Drew Brees and his high-flying offense off the field, the Titans marched the ball 80 yards down the field.
A short toss from Mariota to tight end Anthony Fasano sealed the victory.
“It was an absolutely great win for this team,’’ said Mularkey, who also teared up in the post-game press conference before over two dozen reporters and cameramen. “(The players) are so competitive. They want to win so bad; they have come up short so many times. To keep the resilience throughout the game says a lot. … Never once did they flinch.
“I’m just proud of them, really, really proud. They needed that, they really needed that.”
For those starting to doubt Marcus Mariota, the rookie was 28 of 39 for 371 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a passer rating of 135.7 and left no doubt that he is the franchise quarterback that can lead this team to the promise land.
“I think the entire team just stayed composed. We believed in each other,’’ Mariota said. “There is a lot of excitement. It’s good to come out with a win.”
The other stars on this day was Delanie Walker and the Dick LeBeau Defense.
Walker caught seven passes on the day for 95 yards and two touchdowns, including the tipped pass that changed the game.
With one game left to be played to finish off week nine, Delanie Walker leads all tight ends in fantasy points this week with Mariota finishing second in QB fantasy points, behind only Carolina Panthers qb Cam Newton. The Titans defense made 7.00 fantasy points, finishing fifth.
Speaking of the Panthers, they will bring their unbeaten 8-0 record to Music City for a week 10 matchup next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.