CLEVELAND –** Marcus Mariota didn't get any orders, or handcuffs, from his head coach or trainers before Sunday's game against the Browns.
The Titans quarterback, still on the mend from a hamstring injury, said he felt more like himself. He believes his outlook moving forward is positive.
"I was told to play my game," Mariota said. "It felt good throughout. Day by day I'll get healthier and I'll be ready to go in a couple weeks."
The Titans beat the Browns 12-9 on Sunday on a day when the offense struggled in key areas, and at the wrong time.
Mariota completed 21-of-34 passes for 203 yards, and he tucked the ball and ran eight yards for a first down on one play. His sprint to the corner was a good sign.
With the game-winning drive in overtime at Cleveland, which included a key eight-yard pass to Rishard Matthews on third-and-two, Mariota was credited with his sixth career game-winning drive in 33 career starts.
But after the game, Mariota and members of the offense kicked themselves for not being more effective. The Titans didn't score a touchdown, and had to rely on kicker Ryan Succop for all 12 points. The Titans struggled in the red zone, converted just 5-of-17 third downs (29 percent), and got stuffed at the goal line after a first-and-goal from the one.
"I think it comes down to the red zone," Mariota said. "We're moving the ball fairly well. I thought third down was okay. It wasn't where we wanted it to be, but when we get down in the red zone we can't keep kicking field goals. We have to score touchdowns and make the most of every drive. We'll have a week to correct those things and make sure we're going in the right direction."
Mariota blamed himself for throwing short to tight end Delanie Walker on that failed goal line trip. The Titans were also stuffed trying to run the football – Derrick Henry was stopped short on fourth-and-goal from the one.
"A couple of the things were negative plays and missed opportunities," Mariota said. "I have to make the throw to Delanie on a corner route. It is things like that and obviously those things are going to happen. The defense did a great job keeping us in the game and ultimately winning us the game. We'll go back to the drawing board, get better at those things and we'll find ways to score points."
Seven weeks into the season, Mariota said he's seen some positives. The Titans have played well enough to win four games, and in three of the seven games the Titans have racked up at least 168 yards on the ground.
Plus, rookie receiver Corey Davis, the team's fifth overall pick, has only played one full game with the team and he's nearing a return.
Mariota has missed 1 ½ games with the hamstring injury, and he's clearly been limited.
"I think offensively we've done fairly well," Mariota said of the first seven games. "We've had big plays. We've done well on third down. If we get in the red zone, that's our biggest thing. We've got to be efficient and we've got to score points. As the season rolls on, we start playing playoff teams and we have to find ways to score points. I'm glad we have a week to figure it out."
So far, Mariota has completed 110-of-176 passes for 1,301 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
One thing should help Mariota now: Time to heal.
The Titans have a bye this Sunday. The team will return to action the following Sunday against Baltimore.
"I think it will be huge. It's kind of come at a good time. I am going to do my best to get healthy,' Mariota said. "It's an opportunity to relax and reflect on everything that's happened in the first seven weeks, and get ready to go for the long haul."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)