Marcus Mariota Breaks Smile After OT Win on Sunday


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —During his first six months on the job, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has done his work in low-key fashion. He operated the same way while becoming a Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon.

Following an emotional, pressure-packed game on Sunday in New Orleans, Titans coaches and players celebrated wildly following a 34-28 overtime over the Saints.

Mariota, who led the way, showed a little emotion himself.

"He smiled,'' interim coach Mike Mularkey said with a smile on Monday. "There were a lot of smiling faces in there, but (Marcus) was one of them."

Mariota was cool under pressure in the contest.

In the fourth quarter and overtime of Sunday's win, Mariota completed a combined 15 passes on 17 attempts for 160 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 145.1. He connected with tight end Anthony Fasano for a five-yard touchdown pass for the win.

Mariota was swarmed by his teammates on the field at the Superdome.

On Sunday, Mularkey worked more closely with Mariota than he had at any point this season. He was impressed with his play, and his poise. Mularkey served as assistant coach/tight ends coach until last week, when he was named interim head coach in place of Ken Whisenhunt.

"He's about as level as I've been around,'' Mularkey said of Mariota. "Nothing really disturbs him, nothing. But there is a competitive fire in him that I know is there. And we have a chance no matter what the score, no matter what the time is in the game, we have a chance with this guy."

It was a heck of a day for Mariota, and the Titans.

In his first game back in the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury, Mariota completed 28-of-39 passes for 371 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions a passer rating of 135.7 in just his sixth start of the season.

With four touchdown passes against the Saints, Mariota broke the franchise's single-season rookie record for touchdown passes, topping Vince Young's 12 touchdown passes in 2006. Mariota now has 13 in the season.

Mariota improved his season passer rating to 101.5, which ranks ninth in the NFL and first among rookies. 

Sunday's dramatic finish marked just the second time in franchise history the Titans won an overtime game with a "walk-off" touchdown. The only other overtime touchdown in franchise history was Vince Young's 39-yard touchdown run at the Houston Texans on Dec. 10, 2006.

It was a big day for the offense, as the Titans racked up 483 yards (112 rushing, 371 passing), the franchise's highest total since posting 532 yards against the Cardinals in 2009.

Mariota admitted to being a little rusty early, but said he settled down.

 "I think the first couple of series the speed of the game, coming back, was fast for me,'' Mariota said. "But credit to the guys, they found ways to get open and made plays when need be and the game eventually slowed down for me."

On Sunday, the Titans will try and keep it going.

The undefeated Panthers (8-0) are up next.

The Tennessee Titans take on the New Orleans Saints Week 9 at the Superdome (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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