ARLINGTON, Texas – Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota ditched the glove, and played like a Smooth Criminal.
Mariota completed 21-of-29 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the team's 28-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. He also ran for a nine-yard touchdown late, as the Titans sealed it.
It was Mariota's first game without the glove on his right hand since Week One, when he suffered an elbow injury.
On Monday Night Football, it all seemed even more special.
"It is special for sure," Mariota said. "Growing up, all you can really dream about is playing on Monday night. It was fun to be able to do that – we had a great atmosphere and we had a bunch of Titans fans in town. So it was quite enjoyable.
"And being able to get back to .500 was very important, and we have another one (against the Patriots) coming up."
The Titans converted 11-of-14 third downs in the contest, as the Titans turned a lethargic start into a winning performance.
Mariota connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass to running back Dion Lewis, and he flipped a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jonnu Smith in the second half as well.
Mariota has now thrown 26 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 13 career games vs. NFC opponents.
"Marcus is a warrior, man," Lewis said. "He plays extremely hard, and he is our leader. He's a great quarterback."
Mariota spread the football around in the contest. He connected with receiver Darius Jennings on a beautiful 36-yard completion on one scoring drive, and he also found receiver Cameron Batson on another third down to extend the drive. Receiver Corey Davis led the Titans with six catches for 56 yards.
Asked about Mariota's performance after the game, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he liked what he saw.
"We won the game, and that is the most important thing," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Mariota. "He threw some great balls, and ran the football and scrambled and scored a rushing touchdown when nothing else was there. We are excited about that performance. It was a winning performance."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9 of the 2018 season on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9 of the 2018 season on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)