Marcus Mariota couldn’t move on Monday night. He still was good enough to get the Tennessee Titans a huge win.
Mariota missed last week with a hamstring injury and his status for Monday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts was in question up until inactives were turned in. Mariota was obviously still injured, but Mariota with no ability to run is still better than Matt Cassel, who was awful replacing Mariota in a loss to the Dolphins. So Mariota sucked it up and played, as you’d expect a franchise quarterback to do. And he led his team to a key 36-22 win that leaves them in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South. It also broke an 11-game losing streak to the Colts.
Mariota wasn’t great all night, but he wasn’t himself. There were many times when, if you forgot Mariota was hurting, you saw him have an opening and figured he’d take off on a run. Clearly, he couldn’t. The Titans called just one designed run for Mariota (a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak when they really need it in the fourth quarter), which eliminated a big and important part of their offense. But he could still throw.
Mariota had 306 yards passing and in the fourth quarter he made the play that counted most. Recognizing a blown coverage by the Colts secondary, Mariota threw deep to rookie Taywan Taylor for a 53-yard score that gave the Titans a 29-22 lead. The defense held later when linebacker Wesley Woodyard stopped Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett on a naked bootleg on fourth down, and Derrick Henry added a long touchdown run in the final minute to add to the final score.
Mariota has been very good since entering the NFL as the second pick of the 2015 draft. The one concern about him has been his ability to stay healthy. Mariota finished each of his first two seasons on injured reserve. The hamstring injury this season cost the Titans a winnable game at Miami. They were 2-3 and another divisional loss would have put them in a tough spot.
Basically, the Titans needed Mariota to play through the injury. He did, and made a statement about his toughness in the process.
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