ATLANTA – The demise of Marcus Mariota has been greatly exaggerated.
A week after facing harsh scrutiny, the Titans quarterback came out firing here on Sunday.
Mariota completed 18-of-27 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns in the team's 24-10 over the Falcons – good enough for a passer rating of 129.7. He did most of his damage in the first half, as the Titans took control.
"We were happy to see Marcus get back to being Marcus," receiver Corey Davis said. "Obviously that position comes with a lot of pressure, and they expect a lot out of you.
"But he always answers, and he answers the call pretty well. He did today. He stays confident and he is always going to lead us, and that is something I love about that guy."
On the season, Mariota has now thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Mariota is the only quarterback who has started every game this season and has yet to turn the ball over.
In 16 career games against the NFC, Mariota has now thrown 29 touchdowns and only seven interceptions since entering the NFL in 2015.
In Week 3, Mariota was sacked nine times in a loss against the Jaguars, bringing his sack total to 17 in the first three games. His tendency to hold onto the football too long was called into question.
Here on Sunday, Mariota wasn't sacked once – and he delivered.
"Marcus played great," right tackle Jack Conklin said. "We know what he can do and it is great for us. We have to protect him and keep him clean because we know if we can do that he can make things happen. He proved that today."
Mariota connected with rookie A.J. Brown for a 55-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to give the Titans an early 7-0 lead. Mariota found Brown again for a score in the second quarter, which gave the Titans a 14-7 lead after the Falcons had tied it.
"He was excellent," Brown said of Mariota. "He did a great job of leading us. I told him I was proud of him, and he did a great job leading the way."
Mariota connected with Davis for a 23-yard touchdown pass, and he engineered another scoring drive that ended with a field goal to give the Titans a 24-7 lead at the half.
After the game, Mariota credited his receivers for making plays.
"When you look across the board and see the amount of versatility, and the amount of playmakers that we have across the board, it just kind of depends week to week who it is going to be," Mariota said. "Our guys did an awesome job today and it was fun to see them catch the ball and make plays."
Mariota also vowed to keep working.
"I approach every week the same – I don't get too high with the highs, and I don't get too low with the lows," Mariota said. "For me, I can always improve. I feel like we left some points out there. That's just kind of the mentality I've always had. And if we can continue to get better we can score some more points and win some more games."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 of the 2019 season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 of the 2019 season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)