DETROIT, Mich. — The Titans faced a fourth down, with the game on the line in the closing minutes here on Sunday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota recognized a look from Detroit's defense, and knew exactly what he wanted to do with the football.
"We had a matchup with Andre (Johnson) on a linebacker, and we felt we could kind of exploit that a little bit,'' Mariota said. "And he made a great play. I just tried to give him a chance, and he made a huge play.
"That guy is a Hall of Famer, so that's an easy choice."
Yes, it was a game-winning play for Johnson, who caught the nine-yard touchdown pass from Mariota in between Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead and safety Rafael Bush to give the Titans a 16-15 victory.
"Just making the play,'' Johnson, with a smile, said of what went through his mind as the ball sailed in his direction. "I have been in that situation before. When the ball was thrown, my biggest thing was I knew I had to get up before (the defender) did to make the play, and that's what I did.
"If feels good (to make the play). That's my role now. It is different for me, but at the same time you never know when your number is going to get called. I didn't get many plays in the game, but at a crucial time in the game my number was called and that is the thing you look for, man. I was given an opportunity at that time and I was able to go up and make the play."
The nine-yard catch was his only reception of the game. Johnson had an earlier catch wiped out because of a penalty.
A 14-year NFL veteran, Johnson has been a playmaker throughout his career.
Heading into Sunday's game, he had 1,056 catches for 14,130 yards and 77 touchdowns to his name.
"Andre made a great play, and that's why he's going to go to the Hall of Fame,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "That's what he is here for."
After Sunday's game, Mariota smiled when asked about looking to Johnson with the game on the line.
The look on his face said it all – he was glad he did. On the flight back to Nashville, he wasn't alone.
"The guy has played at the level he has played at for so many years, you have to have that trust in him,'' Mariota said of Johnson. "He's going to make a play for us, and I'm happy he did. I just wanted to give him a chance. Someone with that type of ability, you just want to give them a chance and you know he's going to come down with the ball."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Detroit Lions in Week 2 action at Ford Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)