Marcus Mariota Blames Himself for Costly Turnovers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Marcus Mariota was near perfect on Kickoff Weekend a year ago.

On Sunday, the Titans quarterback performed well for long stretches. But he blamed himself for some costly mistakes in the team's season-opening loss to the Vikings.

"It's frustrating,'' Mariota said. "It is something we can learn from. We really just kind of beat ourselves today. We were moving the ball efficiently, and we ended up giving them 14 points and we just can't do that.

"We were moving the ball, the defense was playing great, and we just kind of gave them the game. That's on me, and I can do a better job of that."

The Titans lost 25-16 to the Vikings despite leading 10-0 at the half, and dominating the game early.

Mariota finished the contest 25-of-41 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns, with a passer rating of 86.5. Mariota also ran for 19 yards on four carries.

While the performance didn't bring back memories of his four-touchdown, 158.3 passer rating game in last year's preseason opener against the Buccaneers, Mariota led long drives, converted third downs and connected with receivers on a number of big throws.

He had a costly turnover in the second half, however, when the game began to turn. Facing pressure on a 2nd and 3 from the Minnesota 24, Mariota was intercepted by Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, who stepped in front of receiver Harry Douglas and returned the intercepted pass 77 yards for a touchdown. It gave the Vikings a 12-10 lead, and they never trailed again.

"That's just a case of me trying to do too much,'' Mariota said. "They had the right play call on defense, and I should've probably just thrown the ball away, moved onto the next play and it's something I can learn from."

Later, Mariota and running back DeMarco Murray botched a handoff exchange, and Vikings defensive lineman Danielle Hunter picked the ball up and raced 24 yards into the end zone to make it 22-10.

"It was a miscommunication on my part,'' Mariota said. "Again, kind of a reaction to what was going on, I was trying to do too much instead of letting the play develop. It's something we can correct and get better at.

"I wanted to take it (back), but in that situation maybe I should've given him the ball and let him run with it, and try and get the drive going."

Murray blamed himself.

"I think I grabbed it,'' Murray said. "I could've done better on that. I definitely take the blame for that. ... (Marcus) is a great quarterback. It definitely wasn't his fault at all. As an offense, we just didn't do the things were are capable of doing, from (all) 11 guys on the field."

Mariota was efficient early. He completed 13-of-21 passes for 146 yards in the first half, and he connected with Murray for a six-yard touchdown pass.

Mariota connected with rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe seven times for 76 yards in the contest, and he was effective when the team went to the no-huddle. Veteran Andre Johnson let a sure touchdown escape his grasp in the first half.

"With No.8, you can never count yourself out of the game,'' tight end Delanie Walker said of Mariota. "He's a comeback kid for sure. But as a unit, when you make mistakes and turn the ball over it's hard to win the game.

"I think this is something we'll learn from, and Marcus will learn from. And he'll make himself better from this, I can guarantee you that."

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said there were plenty of other mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. He was disappointed when the team didn't convert a 3rd and 1 with a Derrick Henry run, and he said a defender went unblocked that led to Mariota rushing a throw on the ball that was intercepted.

"I thought Marcus very efficient, but nobody looks good on turnovers,'' Mularkey said. "… (Marcus) is very competitive. As long as he is behind the wheel we have a chance, regardless of the score and regardless of what we have done prior to the next series. He always gives us a chance and I think he believes that, and I know I do and I know our team does."

Mariota said the Titans can't get down after one game. Next up is a trip to Detroit to face the Lions.

"We just have to bounce back,'' Mariota said. "It's a long season. We can obviously be better with the football. We are going to learn from our mistakes and move forward."

The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 season in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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