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Titans QB Marcus Mariota Delivers Knockout Punch



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Marcus Mariota didn't whine about it.

The Titans quarterback was on the receiving end of a late – some called it "dirty" -- hit from Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on the sideline and out of bounds on Sunday.

"It's part of the game," Mariota said.

But in the end, Mariota made the Seahawks pay.

With a big second half, Mariota guided the Titans to a 33-27 win over the Seahawks. Mariota completed 20-of-32 passes on the day, for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

In the process, he continued to have his way against NFC opponents. In eight career games, Mariota now has 20 touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 119.0. His passer rating on Sunday was 104.3.

"Marcus got better as the game went on," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "It says a lot about who he is and what kind of player he is. He sticks to what we are trying to do and trusts us with the play-calling. He knows we always have a chance, and we'll never be out of a game as long as he's our quarterback."

It probably says a lot about Mariota how his teammates came rushing to the scene after the hit by Sherman, but more on that in a minute.

In the second half on Sunday, Mariota completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rishard Matthews. He also connected with rookie tight end Jonnu Smith for a 24-yard touchdown while guiding three straight touchdown-scoring drives in the third quarter. DeMarco Murray's 75-yard touchdown run gave the Titans a 30-14 lead after the team trailed 14-9 early in the third.

"We started executing in the second half," Matthews said. "And Marcus started to get on a roll."

Perhaps an additional emotional spark was lit when Sherman hit Mariota on the Titans sideline.

Lewan got in Sherman's face, and he was quickly surrounded by tackle Jack Conklin, guard Quinton Spain and several others. Tight end Jonnu Smith rushed to the scene as well. Four players were called for unnecessary roughness, and Lewan voiced his displeasure to Sherman again after the game. "I can only imagine," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said when asked what he thinks Lewan told Sherman in their facemask-to-facemask encounter.

After the game, Sherman defended himself when speaking to reporters.

"He was still in bounds so I play until the blow of the whistle," Sherman said. "If the quarterback slides, or kind of gives himself up or does something like that, then you stop. But if there's still yards that he's gaining, you're taught to play to the whistle. It's so crazy the way the game is nowadays. (Marcus) came up to me and said good hit because he understood that I'm playing until the blow of the whistle. I'm not waiting until you took a step out of bounds.

"It's a game of inches and you can't give up anything, and it's just one of those plays. It's football. It seems like the world is getting a lot softer in terms of the way it's officiated and the way it's seen, but it's football at the end of the day."

Mariota said he was "very humbled" to see all the bodyguards.

"That's really all I strive to be, is the best teammate that I can be," Mariota said. "I appreciate all the effort of the guys. That means a lot."

Several Titans said they didn't like the hit on Mariota.

And they weren't going to let it slide.

The Titans walked away with a win on a day when they let everyone know they have their quarterback's back.m

"You saw what we did - we were coming and running," Titans center Ben Jones said. "Nobody takes hits on our quarterback, and we're going to protect him no matter what. Everybody knows he's our guy and we'll do anything for him."

"You know, Marcus is one of our leaders," added tight end Delanie Walker. "We look up to him, he runs this offense. When we see something like that happen to our quarterback of course you are going to see a melee like you seen. The o-linemen and everybody is going to protect him.

"We don't like to see stuff like that. I am sure he wasn't trying to be dirty, but it happened. We don't need that kind of stuff."

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

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