Titans QB Marcus Mariota Happy to Grind Out a Win


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Marcus Mariota isn't growing the mustache back.

As far as the Titans quarterback is concerned, Sunday's game was a rousing success, even if his numbers don't jump off the stat sheet like previous weeks.

"It was great,'' Mariota said after Sunday's contest. "It feels unbelievable. It was a huge win for us, a huge win for this organization. The defense played outstanding today and we were able to score enough points to win and that is all that matters."

The Titans beat the Broncos 13-10 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium, a day when Mariota didn't necessarily have to put on an offensive show like he'd done in previous weeks. Mariota completed just 6-of-20 passes for 88 yards in the contest, and didn't throw a touchdown.

It broke a string of eight straight games with two touchdown passes for Mariota.

But that was perfectly fine with Mariota. On this day, running backs DeMarco Murray (21 carries, 92 yards), Derrick Henry (12-42) and Mariota (8-38) were part of a rushing attack that produced 180 yards on the ground, and a win.

"That's how it is going to be sometimes," Mariota said. "We had to grind it out a little bit on offense, make plays when we needed to and guys did it. But hats off to the defense, they deserve a lot of credit for this victory. It just says a lot about this team. Sometimes when things aren't going well on one side of the ball the other side can pick it up and all that matters is coming out with a win."

In the contest, Mariota eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark for the season. He became the first Titans quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season since Matt Hasselbeck did it during the 2011 season.

On the season, Mariota now has 3,086 passing yards with 25 touchdowns vs. only eight interceptions, with a 99.1 passer rating.

Mariota made some plays in the contest. On the team's first possession, the Titans drove the field and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Murray to take a 7-0 lead. The run capped off an 11-play, 70-yard drive that included a 23-yard pass from Mariota to tight end Delanie Walker on third down.

Mariota completed a big 26-yard pass to receiver Rishard Matthews late in the game to help flip the field, and set the stage for a big defensive stop.

With a smile, Mariota laughed off a question in the postgame press conference about whether he might consider growing the mustache back.

In November, while sporting the mustache to raise money and awareness for the Movember campaign, Mariota completed 86-of-130 passes for 1,124 yards with 11 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 115.0 passer rating in four games — against the Chargers, Packers, Colts and Bears.

Mariota's 115.0 passer rating in November was the fourth best in franchise history by a player in any calendar month, trailing only Dan Pastorini's 120.8 in November 1979, Warren Moon's 119.1 in November 1990 and Steve McNair's 115.3 in December 2001. He was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month.

It brought out some questions from his superstitious teammates – and even family members – before he brought out the razor.

"No, probably not," Mariota, with a smile, said when asked if he plans to grow the mustache back. "It is funny that you ask that. A lot of athletes in sports, you get superstitious, but we won today, so it doesn't matter to me."

But Mariota was serious when he talked about the position the Titans are in with three games to play.

The Titans travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs next Sunday.

"It is a big win for us, but we are not going to savor it too long,'' Mariota said. "We have to get ready for next week. We are right in the thick of things, and we just have to find ways to improve and hopefully make a run at it towards the end of the year."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Denver Broncos in Week 14 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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