Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
Scott Audette
September 14, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Marcus Mariota's NFL debut had a college feel to it.

After a flawless performance, his team blowing out its opponent, Mariota - as he often did at Oregon - watched from the sidelines as his Tennessee Titans teammates wrapped up a rout.

Mariota not only posted the NFL's top possible rating for quarterbacks, his mark of 158.3 stood Monday as the league's best for the opening weekend. Yes, Mariota was better than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

The rookie, who sat out the fourth quarter, also set a handful of NFL records in beating Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay 42-14 in a battle of Heisman Trophy winners.

It was a debut that even Mariota said exceeded his own expectations.

But this is the NFL, not the Pac-12.

So Mariota was back at work Monday studying the Titans' next opponent, the Cleveland Browns, on his iPad while soaking in a hot tub.

''He's been impressive since Day One when he stepped in here,'' wide receiver Harry Douglas said Monday. ''He just shows everybody, shows the world how he prepares, how he's ready for anything and how he's just cool, calm and he just handles every situation of a football game. I'm excited to be on this side of the ball with him.''

Mariota helped Tennessee end the 10-game skid the Titans finished last season with by leading them to their biggest margin of victory in nearly three years - a 37-3 win at Miami on Nov. 11, 2012. They also scored their most points when opening the season on the road.

The rookie also sent people scrambling for the record books with his four touchdown passes. His NFL records include:

- The first rookie with two TD passes in the first quarter in the opening week of a season.

- The first rookie to throw four touchdowns in one half.

- Tied Fran Tarkenton for most TDs thrown by a quarterback in his first game. Tarkenton threw four TDs for Minnesota on Sept. 17, 1961.

- The first player since at least 1933 to post a perfect passer rating in his first game with a minimum of 10 pass attempts.

If that wasn't enough, Mariota also tied Brady for the most TD passes for the opening week while averaging 13.1 yards per pass attempt, the highest of the first week.

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich didn't get to see his former quarterback's NFL debut but noticed on the ''little ticker thing'' on television that Mariota had been busy.

''That's pretty much par for the course in his world of breaking records in game one,'' Helfrich said. ''So that's pretty cool, and obviously very happy for him. At the same time, I'd like to say (I'm) not surprised.''

Mariota also made sure to spread his passes around with TD tosses to four different receivers. Douglas said the rookie's favorite receiver is the open guy, adding that Mariota didn't even really show off his mobility, running only twice against Tampa Bay.

''It's going to keep D coordinators up late at night figuring out how to stop certain things that he does,'' Douglas said.

Don't think Mariota was perfect. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt wants better checks, huddle management and communication with the line. Whisenhunt also wasn't happy that the rookie tried to run on second-and-goal at the Bucs 1 in the second quarter only to lose 3 yards.

''In college, he probably would've run that in,'' Whisenhunt said. ''In the NFL, he thought he could. When you lose 3 yards on a play down there in that area of the field that's critical. You can't do that.''

Still, not a bad start at all for a rookie.

Notes: Tight end Delanie Walker was seen wearing a brace on his right hand, and Whisenhunt said the veteran has a chance to play at Cleveland. Whisenhunt said the Titans also will step up cornerback Jason McCourty's rehab from groin surgery this week.


AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson contributed to this story from Oregon.



AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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