NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** Marcus Mariota watched from the sideline as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck made one big play after another in a comeback win over the Titans.
Following his team's 34-26 loss to the Colts, Mariota talked about his admiration for Luck, and his ability to perform in the clutch.
"Credit to him and their team," Mariota said of Luck. "He's been doing it for a long time, and he kind of thrives in those situations."
Mariota kicked himself after Sunday's game, however. The second-year quarterback, who has three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in 19 career starts, wasn't able to deliver in crunch time on Sunday.
Mariota said the Titans hurt themselves throughout the day, which forced them to have to battle back from an early deficit.
"We really lost this game," Mariota said. "It's on us. We missed opportunities, and we kept them in the game."
Mariota finished the game 22-of-37 for 232 yards and two touchdowns, with a 95.8 rating. He now has eight touchdown passes in the last three games.
Mariota said his performance on Sunday, however, was too inconsistent.
And he made a big faux pas late.
After the Colts took the lead 27-23 on a touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Jack Doyle, the Titans got the ball back with 1:55 remaining and a chance to win it with another game-winning drive. But Mariota was hit by Colts defensive lineman T.Y. McGill on a 1st-and-10 play from the 25-yard line, and he lost the ball. Colts linebacker Robert Mathis picked the ball up and ran it in for a 14-yard fumble return for a touchdown to make it 34-23.
"I was trying to step up in the pocket and make a throw to the left,'' Mariota said. "I didn't really feel the pressure, I probably could've moved away from it. It was one of those things where it was kind of perfect timing for him. Right when I was separating my hands to throw the football he just kind of poked at it and ending up knocking it out."
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Mariota has to keep his hands on the football.
"That can't happen,'' Mularkey said. "We felt very good about our situation with the time, and a time out left. We felt like we could get down (and score). It is one of those things we've had happen to us and we have to stop doing (it). … You have to put the ball away. You have to protect the ball better."
Mariota had some really good moments for the Titans. He guided the team on a 10-play, 78-yard drive on the team's first possession of the game, and capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to left tackle Taylor Lewan, who was an eligible receiver on the play.
Late in the game, Mariota led the Titans on a 13-play, 75-yard drive, and capped it off with a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker, which tied the score at 20-20 with 12:39 remaining. Mariota completed a pair of big third-down completions – to receivers Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews – to keep the drive alive.
Mariota guided the team on a seven-play, 50-yard drive that produced a 48-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop, and a 23-20 lead.
But the Titans, and Mariota, were left wondering what could have been after watching the Colts rally, and win.
"There were several things we missed in the passing game, down the field with the post to Rishard … and third downs here and there, and that's on me,'' Mariota said. "Those guys were getting open and I was missing.
"Unfortunately, including myself, we just missed on those opportunities. … I believe in those guys in the locker room. Sometimes you just come up short. You just have to battle your way back.
"We have a short week this week,'' Mariota continued. "With what happened today, guys are hungry to go back on the field. It is an opportunity to get back on track and get rolling again."
The Titans face the Jaguars on Thursday night at Nissan Stadium.
Walker said the Titans need a more complete performance.
"It's on all of us,'' Walker said. "It's not just Marcus. If Marcus was playing every position he could say (it was on him), but he only plays one position. We all have to do our part."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)