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Marcus Mariota Has Up and Down Day in Loss to Chargers


SAN DIEGO — Marcus Mariota felt the love, and he certainly heard it.

No.8 jerseys were everywhere on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, some honoring him for his playing days at Oregon, while plenty of others were decked out in the jersey he wears as quarterback of the Titans. Some of the fans were from his home state of Hawaii.

"It was special," Mariota said after Sunday's game. "A lot of family members, a lot of close friends I haven't had an opportunity to play in front of for a few years. For them to come out and show their support, it means a lot to my family and I. Unfortunately it didn't go the way that we wanted, but I'm thankful they were here and it meant a lot.'"

Mariota had some special moments on Sunday, completing 27-of-43 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns for the Titans. But Mariota also threw two interceptions, and lost a fumble in the team's 43-35 loss to the Chargers. Two of those turnovers were returned for San Diego defensive touchdowns.

"They made a couple of great plays,'' Mariota said. "Obviously I can't fumble, that is going to put us in bad situations. … The turnovers hurt us a lot and those are things I have to take care of."

Mariota threw two touchdown passes to receiver Rishard Matthews, the first one a 16-yarder that cut San Diego's lead to 16-7 in the first half. Later, Mariota connected with Matthews again, from seven yards out, to cut San Diego's lead to 19-14.

The Titans then took the lead 21-19 on their first possession of the second half on a 14-yard touchdown run by Mariota, which capped off a nine-play, 75-yard drive.

Mariota lost the handle while running to his right on an option play, however, and Chargers safety Dwight Lowery picked up the loose football and ran it back 43 yards for a touchdown, making it 33-21 Chargers with 2:31 left in the third quarter.

Later, Mariota was intercepted by Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers, who returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to make it 43-28. Titans receiver Kendall Wright took the blame for that one after the game.

Mariota kicked himself for the mistakes, while his teammates had his back.

"He knows what he is doing – he is not a kid. He is a grown man,'' tackle Taylor Lewan said of Mariota. "My faith is in Marcus more than anybody else on this team. I'll go to battle with him any single day of the week. He is such a great player."

Wright took the blame for that one after the game.

"I have to come downhill more when the ball is in the air,'' Wright said. "I just have to fix it and make sure I don't do it again.

"(Marcus) will always be harder on himself than anybody else. I think he made a lot of great plays, threw a lot of great passes. The interception (on the ball thrown my day), I take the blame for that… He just needs to keep doing what he is doing and keep making plays to keep us in football games."

The Oregon Alumni Association bought a block of 200 seats from the Chargers, with buyers from Oregon, Washington, California and Hawaii. The buyers were sent green "once a Duck, always a Duck" T-shirts and were given green pom-poms.

A group also attended the game from Saint Louis High School, Mariota's alma mater, in Honolulu.

Mariota threw a touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker in the second half.

"Whether it was the Duck faithful or the people back home from Hawaii, it was a special time for me and I appreciate all the support,'' Mariota said.

"We just have to take it one game at a time. Move on from this one. We have a really good team coming in next week and just figure out ways to game plan and get ready for that one."

The Tennessee Titans take on the San Diego Chargers in Week 9 action at Qualcomm Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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