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Titans Do-it-All QB Marcus Mariota Ready for More



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn't mind sacrificing his body to make a block, something he did at a critical time in the team's playoff win at Kansas City.

"Whatever it takes, I'm willing to do it," Mariota said. "I just want to keep winning."

With a smile, Mariota said some of the team's offensive linemen gave him grief about his technique in paving the way for Derrick Henry's game-sealing run in the closing minutes, however.

"(They) said I've got to sustain my block," Mariota said. "They felt like I let go a little early, I didn't finish the play. Derrick made a great play, it was a great way to seal the game. Just trying to make a play."

Surprisingly, Mariota has been asked more about his block than his other highlight-reel play against the Chiefs – when he was credited with a six-yard touchdown pass after he caught a batted ball, and dove into the end zone.

But this week, the focus has shifted. Next up is a divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots, on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

"Their red-zone defense is probably one of the tops in the NFL," Mariota said of the Patriots. "They find a way to make you kick field goals. They do a lot of different things, whether it's their fronts, whether it's their schemes and their coverages. We've got our work cut out for us. We've got to be good in the red zone, we've got to convert third downs, that doesn't change for us. If we're able to do that, I think we can be successful."

Mariota has been building momentum – and igniting the fan base – one play at a time in recent weeks.

In the season, finale against the Jaguars, Mariota got plenty of attention after stiff-arming a Jaguars defender on a critical third down run late. Mariota earned a first down on the play, and his stare down of the stiff-arm recipient left his teammates howling, and the crowd roaring.

Then came his touchdown pass to himself, and his block. His teammates swarmed him after that one.

"I was just having a good time," Mariota said. "Everyone kind of understood the situation, and we were all kind of celebrating together.

"I just try to carry myself the same way week in and week out. I feel like that if keep that even keel, guys can look to me to make a play. That's what I like. I just want to go out there and do my best for these guys and just try to win games."

On Tuesday, Mariota said the team's confidence level is high this week, despite the fact the team is a decided underdog.

Mariota said players "don't listen to what's going on outside. We've just got to focus on each other, focus on how we together can accomplish our goal. No matter what, we can't control what other people think about us. We've just got to do what it takes to win."

The recent success has lit a fire under a team that struggled in December, before picking up the critical, playoff-clinching win over the Jaguars.

Now the team is ready for its next challenge.

Just two years removed from a 3-13 season in Mariota's rookie year in 2015, the Titans are two wins away from the Super Bowl.

"(The players) continue to believe in each other," he said. "They know that you can be down, but we've always got an opportunity to come back and win. It's a great culture to be a part of and something that I'll never take for granted.

"This winning attitude, this group of guys that we've created, it's totally different from what I experienced my rookie year. … This is what I've worked hard for, it's to get into these situations, to get in these kinds of games. To see where it's come, to be a part of it, I think is very gratifying. Obviously, it's not the end of the road, but this is what you want to do and this is who we want to be consistently."

Titans players take the field for Tuesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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