FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —Marcus Mariota didn't want to come out of Sunday's game against the Patriots. But with his right knee hurting, the result of an injury he suffered in the first half, coaches and trainers made the decision to keep rookie quarterback on the sideline for the rest of the game.
"I wanted to go back in right away, and go out there and play with the guys,'' Mariota said afterward. "But Zach (Mettenberger) is more than capable of taking over the team. And me not playing at 100 percent would have hurt us."
Mariota injured his knee in the second quarter of the contest when he was sacked by Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins on a third down play.
Mettenberger replaced Mariota on the next series, and finished the 33-16 loss to the Patriots. Mariota missed two games earlier this season after suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee in the team's October 18 game against the Dolphins.
Time will tell of Mariota will be ready for next week. The Titans have two games left, including next Sunday's home finale against the Texans.
"We'll see how it is tomorrow, but I don't expect to be out the rest of the year,'' Mariota said. "We'll take it day by day and see what happens.
"… I want to play every game -- that has kind of been my mentality since I was a kid. And that's what I am going to try and do."
Mariota was outfitted in a brace on the sideline. He watched the second half wearing a stocking cap, and a sweatshirt.
Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey said he doesn't believe the injury is serious. Mariota said pain wasn't a huge factor, but instead the training staff had concerns about the stability of the knee.
"We discussed putting him back in, but we thought in the best interest for him and our team and where we are at right now, we thought the best thing was to hold him,'' Mularkey said. "We thought we'd rather err on the side of caution. We just thought, "Let's be smart about it.
"… Marcus is never OK not playing. He wants to play, he'll play on one leg if you let him. So I know how he feels, and I know he wanted to play. But it was our decision."
Against long odds, Mariota was hoping to guide the Titans to an upset win over the defending Super Bowl champs.
But Mariota was hit early in the game, sacked three times before leaving the contest in the second quarter. Mariota finished the day 3-of-6 for 34 yards before being replaced by Mettenberger.
Mariota completed passes to fullback Jalston Fowler, receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and tight end Anthony Fasano early in the contest, but the early pressure made it tough.
The Patriots jumped to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter after Mariota was sacked by defensive end Chandler Jones, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Titans tackle Byron Bell said the team can't let Mariota take shots like he did again Sunday. Mariota has been sacked 38 times on the season.
"We can't let him keep getting hit like that,'' Bell said. "I'll be the first to speak up and take my lashes. I got him hit a couple of times last week and we just can't do that. I mean, that man is going to be a great player in this league for a long time and he is going to bring a lot of excitement to Nashville.
"But when he is not on the field, that hurts is as a football team. We have to keep him clean and keep him healthy."
Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who caught two touchdown passes from Mettenberger in the second half, said it "hurt" to see Mariota gets knocked out of another contest.
"I know it hurts me, and I know it hurts everyone in this locker room,'' Walker said. "But the game has to go on. I thought Zach did a nice job."
Mariota showed up at Gillette Stadium with a "C" patch on his uniform after becoming a team captain this week. Mariota took the place of running back Dexter McCluster, who was placed on Injured Reserve during the week after suffering a season-ending injury.
Mariota called it "an honor." Now he hopes he can put the uniform on two more times during his rookie season.
"It is an incredible honor and privilege, to be with the rest of the captains on this team. It is something special,'' Mariota said. "I take that importantly and will do my best to represent that in the best way."