QB Marcus Mariota Guides Titans to Improbable Win


KANSAS CITY – Marcus Mariota, take a bow.

Here on Saturday, the Titans quarterback guided his team to its biggest win in nearly 15 years.

Mariota completed 19-of-31 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, and he engineered some big drives late as the Titans rallied for a 22-21 win in an AFC Wild Card game. The Titans outscored the Chiefs 19-0 in the second half to win it.

"Unbelievable," Mariota said. "It is what you work hard for. It is what you grind it out for 4-5 months. This isn't (the ultimate goal), but it was nice to get a win and hopefully we can keep it rolling."

With the Titans trailing 21-3 at the half, Mariota and the Titans stepped it up.

The Tians cut the lead to 21-10 midway through the third quarter on a bizarre play – a six-yard touchdown pass from Mariota, to Mariota. It came on third-and-goal, when Mariota, rolling to his left, threw a ball that was batted back in his direction by Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis. Mariota caught the pass, and then dove into the end zone for a touchdown.

Mariota became the first player to catch a touchdown pass from himself since Brad Johnson in Week 7, 1997.

"It's hard to explain," Mariota said. "I was trying to make a play. … I was just kind of in the right place at the right time."

Teammates said luck had nothing to do with Mariota's finish.

Mariota guided a six-play, 62-yard drive in the fourth quarter that was capped off with a 35-yard touchdown run by running back Derrick Henry, which cut the lead to 21-16 with 14:08 left.

When the Titans got the ball back, Mariota engineered an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker with 6:06 left, which gave the Titans a 22-21 lead.

Later in the game, Mariota sprung Henry for a big run with a key block.

"You can't count out 8," center Ben Jones said of Mariota. "He is a blocker, he is a quarterback. He throws touchdown passes to himself. Marcus is the man."

Mariota has now engineered five game-winning drives in 2017, and nine in his career.

"That guy is a legend," Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said of Mariota. "He gets it done. A lot of things have come up this year where (the media and fans) have been down on him. But I think that guy has earned some kudos.

"He is a hell of a competitor, and a hell of a player."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 in Kansas City. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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