Tennessee and Carolina both came into their 2015 game with high-profile players at quarterback, but for two very different reasons. The Panthers entered with Cam Newton starting under center, and while Newton would go on to win MVP that year, he hadn’t quite taken off going into the Titans game.
Newton started the season up to that point throwing just 14 touchdowns to nine interceptions through eight games, with only one game with over 300 yards passing. Regardless, because of Newton’s rushing ability and the team’s 8-0 start, the quarterback walked into Nashville with national attention and MVP buzz surrounding him.
The Titans had their own attention-grabbing quarterback under center for this game in rookie Marcus Mariota. Mariota had been experiencing the highs and lows that usually accompany a quarterback’s first year in the league, but had been looking like a promising young player through his first six games, and had passing numbers that rivaled Newton’s with 13 touchdowns to only five interceptions.
Despite Newton coming in with a higher profile and bigger expectations, Mariota and the Titans might have gained some momentum the week prior. Coming back from a two-week recovery period after an injury against the Miami Dolphins, Mariota had a stellar game against the Saints under interim head coach Mike Mularkey (more on Mularkey later). The rookie quarterback threw four touchdowns without turning the ball over, and threw a walk-off touchdown in overtime to tight end Anthony Fasano to give the Titans their second win of the season.