NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was a cut above in November, ranking first in the NFL in passer rating, passing yards, touchdown passes and yards per attempt.
It came during a month when he grew a mustache to raise money — and awareness — for charity.
It turns out the mustache also grew on a lot of superstitious folks around him.
"A lot of people, a lot of dudes in the locker room (thought I should keep it),'' Mariota said with a smile on Wednesday. "Even my parents were kind of like, 'Are you sure you want to shave it?' For me, it was time to go. It was getting out of hand."
Yes, Mariota shaved the mustache. On December 1st.
Now, he hopes to keep the momentum going on Sunday when the Titans face the Denver Broncos at Nissan Stadium.
Mariota has been razor-sharp of late.
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 – in November, with a yards per attempt average of 8.65. He also rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown.
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.
On the season, Mariota has 2,998 passing yards with 25 touchdowns vs only eight interceptions. His passer rating is 101.9, which is fifth-best in the NFL.
"Well, it's very important,'' Mariota said of keeping the momentum going. "It really starts off on the practice field, continuing the chemistry, continuing the rhythm that we're in, always finding ways to get better, but at the same time, just doing our best to keep everyone on the same page and keep everyone in the same rhythm."
Mariota touched on a number of topics on Wednesday as he returned to the practice field following the bye week.
Among the topics was a serious one: the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, which left more than 2,300 service people dead. Mariota, who is from Hawaii, said Pearl Harbor Day is especially meaningful to everyone on the island, and across the country.
He recalled a visit to Pearl City as a youngster.
TitansOnline.com looks back at Marcus Mariota's outstanding performance in November of 2016. (AP Photos)
"I was really young," Mariota said. "I took a field trip when I was in elementary school. You do the USS Arizona, which still leaks oil, which is pretty crazy. It's one of those things that's pretty eye-opening, even at a young age. But again, it's one of those deals where you pay respects and it puts a lot of things into perspective.
"December 7, 1941, is something that, especially growing up in Hawaii, you learn at such a young age. You always think about the families that were affected in that. I mean, it's really right down the street from a lot of us growing up. It puts into perspective a lot of different things. A lot of those sailors, a lot of those people that unfortunately passed away were 17, 18 years old. Just looking back on it, it puts a lot of things into perspective and you just kind of look back and pay your respects."
Mariota, who has 21 touchdowns vs. only three interceptions in the last eight games for a 117.7 rating, said the Titans are focused on finishing the season strong.
He knows what's at stake.
"It's crunch time,'' he said. "For us right now we have an opportunity to put forward our best step and make some of our goals achievable. We just have to take it one game at a time and hopefully when the season is done we'll like where we are."
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)