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Titans, Mariota Can't Pull Off Late-Game Heroics This Time



NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** A week ago in Detroit, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota led a game-winning drive in the closing moments.

On Sunday at Nissan Stadium, it looked like he'd pull off some late-game heroics once again.

Only this time, the Titans came up short in a 17-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

"What's so great about this league is week in and week out you are competing against the best,'' Mariota said after Sunday's loss. "Unfortunately, sometimes you are not going to come out on top, but it is a good tool for us to learn from and continue to grow."

Trailing 17-10 with 1:51 remaining, the Titans got the ball at their own 20. Mariota completed a 10-yard pass to receiver Rishard Matthews, and then a 25-yard pass to receiver Harry Douglas. After a 23-yard completion to receiver Tajae Sharpe, the Titans suddenly were at the Oakland 22-yard line, with 1:02 left.

"We kind of built a rhythm, and we were moving the ball,'' Mariota said. "I thought we had a chance."

Then came the drama, and the disappointment.

After Mariota connected again with Sharpe, which put the ball at the Oakland 3, tackle Taylor Lewan was whistled for unnecessary roughness, which moved the ball back to the 18-yard line.

Lewan said afterward he thought the play was still alive, and he was trying to block.

"We love his effort, and that's what makes this team better,'' Mariota said of Lewan, "his effort and him trying to lay it all on the line for us."

Moments later, Mariota connected with receiver Andre Johnson for an apparent 13-yard touchdown, but that play was negated because of an offensive pass interference call. A fourth-down pass to Douglas fell incomplete in the end zone after Douglas and an Oakland defender collided. Fans wanted a defensive pass interference call, but it never came.

"It is unfortunate,'' Mariota said. "On the coverage, I thought I was going to get a chance with Andre, and I thought he made a great play.

"The one to Harry, I tried to fit it in the window, and unfortunately it was a little too high, and it's part of it.

"That's up to them,'' Mariota said of the officiating. "We have to play with how they are going to referee the game. We don't have control over that. We just have to focus on what we do and what we can control and roll with it."

The Titans didn't help themselves for long stretches on Sunday.

While Mariota completed 17-of-33 passes for 214 yards, he threw two interceptions, and also lost a fumble.

Mariota blamed himself for trying to do too much.

"The turnovers, you can't be doing that,'' he said. "That is just me being a competitor. And that is where I have to continue to learn. I am trying to do too much, trying to fight for a first down … rather than taking care of the football.

"I have to find ways to do better. I can't be putting our defense in (bad) situations. And I will get better at it.

"That's me, learning and growing,'' he continued. "I can do a better job of just taking it one play at a time and not winning the game on one throw. It is a process for me and I am doing my best to learn."

Now, the Titans have to find a way to bounce back from a tough loss on a day when the team's defense shut out the NFL's No.1-ranked offense in the second half.

The Texans are up next, in Houston.

"I just continue to have a 24-hour policy, win or lose,'' Mariota said. "(We just need to) find ways to get better and then move on from it.

"I thought (our defense) did great, they gave us a chance to win the game. For us, we have to play better on the offensive side of the ball so we can match what they are doing on defense."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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