TAMPA, Fla. — Marcus Mariota's NFL debut will go down in history.
The Titans rookie quarterback became just the second player in NFL history to throw for four touchdowns in his first NFL start on Sunday. Mariota, the second overall pick of the draft, put on a show in a season opening 42-14 win over the Buccaneers.
Mariota threw all four of his touchdown passes in the first half as the Titans jumped out to a big lead. Fran Tarkenton threw four touchdowns in his rookie debut with the Vikings back in 1961.
Mariota's passer rating was a perfect 158.3. He completed 13-of-16 passes for 209 yards in the contest, along with the four touchdowns.
Afterward, Mariota admitted the start exceeded his own expectations.
"It felt great,'' Mariota said. "I'm proud of the guys in the locker room. We worked hard all week, and to be successful, it's good for us...The entire offense played well. We had some success today."
It was all Mariota from the get-go.
"Now he has shown everybody what he can do in a real game and a lot of people will be surprised,'' receiver Kendall Wright said. "But that's the way he played all training camp and all of the preseason. It's what we expected."
Mariota connected with Wright for a 48-yard touchdown pass on the game's opening drive. After faking a handoff to running back Dexter McCluster, Mariota delivered a strike to Wright, who outraced Tampa Bay safety Chris Conte to the end zone.
Following a defensive touchdown, Mariota connected with running back Bishop Sankey for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Titans a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Mariota's third touchdown pass was a four-yarder to receiver Harry Douglas. His fourth touchdown pass was a one-yarder to tight end Delanie Walker, which made it 35-7 before halftime.
It was a heck of a start for Mariota, the second overall pick of the draft. Mariota and Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston became the first set of rookie starting quarterbacks drafted first and second in the same draft to open the season against each other.
"Marcus is so poised, he is so confident,'' tackle Taylor Lewan said. "The way he plays football, he is a born leader and I am excited to have him on the team. And while I know he's not going to admit it, I bet he was pretty pumped to beat the first overall pick. I had two tackles taken ahead of me and I was pretty salty about that. I still am."
Mariota also rushed twice for six yards in the contest. He was sacked twice.
Back-up quarterback Zach Mettenberger replaced Mariota in the fourth quarter, when the quarterback received handshakes and hugs on the sideline from his teammates.
"Marcus,'' rookie tackle Jeremiah Poutasi said, "he played a great game, what else can you say? A lot of people might be surprised at how well he played, but he did just what we expected him to do. He's a great player."
Mariota did an interview with ESPN before leaving the locker room with a Hawaiian lei around his neck. A crowd of national reporters surrounded the podium as he spoke.
In the coming days, he'll be lauded for his poise, and performance in Week One.
Mariota said he's already focused on Cleveland, next week's opponent.
He downplayed the significant of his individual performance.
"It means we're 1 and 0," Mariota said. "For me, it's taking it one day at a time and just executing to the best of my abilities. It's a good start for us, but it's the first game. We have to continue to get better and not focus on stats.
"I am just excited for next week. We have an opportunity to continue to put our best foot forward and for me, that's exciting."