MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. –** Marcus Mariota cruised, the running game bruised, and the Titans defense abused the Miami Dolphins here on Sunday.
The team's most complete effort of the season added up to a 30-17 win at Hard Rock Stadium.
"It was a good win, a good win on the road,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "I'm very happy for these guys and I'm very proud of these guys. I thought we played better and I thought we played more complimentary football as a team. … For the most part guys stuck together and really executed the schemes. I'm really, really proud of them."
Mariota was sharp. He completed 20-of-29 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and also ran for a touchdown. His passer rating was 117.5.
Running back DeMarco Murray was a workhorse. He ran for 121 yards on 27 carries, and was part of a rushing attack that produced 235 yards on the ground. Derrick Henry added 54 yards on seven carries, and Mariota ran for 60 himself.
Most importantly, the Titans improved to 2-3 with the win. They outgained the Dolphins 398 to 200 in total yardage in the contest, and had 23 first downs compared to eight for Miami. They held the ball 36:44 of the game's 60 minutes.
"I thought our offensive line did a great job with the blocking, and the tight ends did a hell of a job with their blocking,'' Murray said. "It takes all 11 guys and the coaching staff to put together a great game plan. We were able to run the ball. … We just have to build on this."
The Titans were also a force on defense.
The Titans sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times in the contest. The team entered the contest with six sacks through four games. The Titans also picked off Tannehill twice, getting interceptions from cornerbacks Jason McCourty and safety Daimion Stafford.
"It was a good day defensively,'' said linebacker Derrick Morgan, who had two of the sacks. "Just to be able to get out there and play loose, play with a lead, it was good. It was a whole team effort. We had great coverage, and the quarterback was holding the ball. When he holds the ball like that, we are able to get back there.
"We showed what we are capable of, but we have to build on this and keep it going. It's just one game. We have to win back-to-back, and we are 2-3, below .500. We are headed in the right direction, but we have to build on this as a team."
The Titans dominated play throughout, and they got out of the gate early.
Mariota's 5-yard touchdown run gave the Titans a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. At the end of a 61-yard drive, Mariota took the snap and sprinted into the corner of the end zone.
The Dolphins tied the game early in the second quarter, however, on a 74-yard punt return by Jakeem Grant, which was made possible by some sloppy tackling from the Titans.
But the Titans answered back. A 12-play, 76-yard drive was capped off this time with a five-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to receiver Andre Johnson, which made it 14-7. The Dolphins tied it up later in the quarter, however, on a four-yard touchdown run by Jay Ajayi.
The Titans responded once again, however. After getting the ball back on their own 25-yard line at the 2-minute warning, the Titans went 75 yards on just six plays, and scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Delanie Walker with 47 seconds left before halftime. Mariota went 5-of-5 on the drive, with a 21-yard run.
"From prior games, you have seen we don't put our heads down when the other teams make plays,'' Walker said. "We are always going to fight back. … The score at the end of the half was big. We need to answer and we did."
The Titans and Dolphins swapped field goals early in the third quarter. Ryan Succop's 40-yard kick for the Titans was set up by McCourty's interception.
A four-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to receiver Rishard Matthews capped off a nine-play, 66-yard drive and made it 30-17 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Titans got pressure throughout on Tannehill, as defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, linebacker Brian Orakpo and Morgan all recorded two sacks each.
The Titans face the Browns next Sunday at Nissan Stadium, the start of a three-game homestand.
"For us, it is one day at a time,'' Mariota said. "We can't look too far in the future. We have things to correct, so we have to continue to get better. It is nice we'll be home for a few weeks now. Hopefully this will build into some momentum."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 5 action at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)