Recalling Mariota's Best Moments With Titans
NASHVILLE – Marcus Mariota did not do enough over the past five years to establish himself as the Tennessee Titans’ franchise quarterback.
The second overall pick in the 2015 draft knows as well as anyone that in a matter of months he will be on to his second NFL team and a second chance to prove he can be an elite performer in the league.
To say he was a bust, though, would be inaccurate. Mariota occasionally dazzled with performances that made it seem he was poised for a breakthrough, which never happened.
"The organization took a chance on me, and I felt like I gave them everything I've got," he said following the loss to Kansas City, according to the team’s website. "Obviously, we're not sure what is going to happen. But I know when it is all said and done, I gave this organization everything I could.
“… No matter what happens, I know I've given it everything I've got, and we'll see what happens next.”
Before he moves on, here’s a look at Mariota’s five best games during his five seasons with Tennessee:
• Sept. 13, 2015 at Tampa Bay: It is a safe bet that few – if any – players ever got off to a better start in the NFL than Mariota. In his debut, against the Buccaneers and No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, he completed 13 of 15 passes for 209 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, which made him the first player of the Super Bowl era to record a perfect passer rating (158.3) in his first start and the second rookie ever to throw at least three touchdown passes in a season opener (Fran Tarkenton, 1961, was the other). Mariota’s first completion went for 22 yards to Delanie Walker on third-and-10. His next, on the next snap, was a 52-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright. By halftime, Mariota already had four touchdown passes on 10 completions. The Titans won 42-14.
• Jan. 6, 2018 at Kansas City: In his first career playoff game, Mariota led the Titans to a 22-21 victory in a game they trailed by 18 midway through the third quarter. The comeback started in earnest when Mariota scrambled left on third-and-goal from the Chiefs’ 6. His pass for Corey Davis was deflected backward by K.C. cornerback Darrelle Revis. Mariota caught the ball and dove across the goal line, which made him the first player in 20 years to catch a touchdown pass from himself. He finished the game 19-31 passing for 205 yards with two touchdowns. His second touchdown pass was the game-winner, from 22 yards with 6:06 to play. He also rushed eight times for 46 yards. To date, it is Mariota’s only postseason victory as a starter.
• Dec. 6, 2015 vs. Jacksonville: Mariota had a hand in four touchdowns, three passing and an 87-yard touchdown run that was part of a 21-point fourth quarter in a back-and-forth affair. In the 42-39 Tennessee victory, he finished with 268 yards passing (he was 20-for-29) and a career-high 112 rushing yards (nine attempts). That made him the only player in NFL history with at least 250 yards and three touchdowns passing and at least 100 yards and a touchdown rushing in the same game. His touchdown run was the longest by a quarterback in team history and the third-longest by any NFL quarterback ever, and his rushing total was a franchise record for a quarterback.
• Nov. 26, 2018 at Houston: Typically, when Mariota was at his best things worked out well for the Titans. This 34-17 defeat was an exception. He completed 22 of 23 passes, including his first 19. His completion percentage (95.7) set a franchise record and was the second highest in league history by someone with at least 20 attempts. Those completions (nine to running backs, eight to tight ends and five to wide receivers) added up to 303 yards, one of eight 300-yard games in his career. His passer rating was 147.7, the second best of his career.
• Nov. 8, 2015 at New Orleans: The first time he returned from an injury (he missed the previous two games with a knee injury), Mariota set franchise records for passing yards by a rookie in a single game and touchdown passes by a rookie in a single season. The 34-28 victory ended with his 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano 5:10 into overtime, which gave him 371 passing yards for the game (still his career-high) and 13 touchdown passes for the season (he finished with 19). The Titans never led until that final play, and he was 6-for-6 for 62 yards on the game-winning drive.