Titans QB Marcus Mariota Not Happy with Slow Start

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INDIANAPOLIS — Quarterback Marcus Mariota continued to put up big numbers.

Running back DeMarco Murray reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season.

And after a slow start, the Titans offense got rolling here on Sunday.

But in the end, none of it seemed to matter. The slow start came back to cost the Titans in the end in a 24-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

"We can't start the way that we did,'' Mariota said afterward. "If we want to be the team that we want to be, slow starts like that cannot happen. I have to do a better job of putting the guys in better situations and allowing us the opportunity to start fast.

"It really just starts with me. I can do a better job of communicating, helping the guys up front, and making sure we are all on the same page. And I am going to do better at that."

The Titans trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 21-0 early in the second quarter.

A pair of early three-and-outs hurt the cause, but the Titans stumbled on both sides of the ball. Indianapolis scored on its first three possessions against the Titans defense, which played a major role in the early deficit.

Behind Mariota and Murray, the Titans rallied. Mariota completed 25-of-38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, while Murray ran for 70 yards while catching a touchdown pass. Murray reached the 1,000 yards rushing in a season for the third time in his career. Receiver Rishard Matthews also had a big day, with nine catches for 122 yards.

On the third down play in the second quarter, Mariota side-stepped pressure from defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway before finding Murray in the end zone, which made it 21-7 at the half.

The Titans kept fighting, and they got back in it. After taking over at their own two-yard line, Mariota drove the team 98 yards on nine plays, capping the drive off with a 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie Tajae Sharpe. It was the second touchdown in as many weeks for Sharpe, and the score made it 21-14.

The Titans cut the lead to 21-17 early in the fourth quarter on a 47-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop.

The Titans felt like they were in it to win it.

"As long as we have those guys in the locker room, I believe no matter what the deficit is, we have an opportunity to win,'' Mariota said. "Moving forward, obviously we have to start faster. But it doesn't matter what the score is, we're going to have a chance to win at the end."

In the past seven games, Mariota has 19 passing touchdowns vs. only three interceptions, in addition to two rushing touchdowns. Mariota has at least two touchdown passes in seven consecutive games, and he's already surpassed his rookie total for touchdown passes on the season with 23. Mariota is the first Titans quarterback since Steve McNair in 2003 to thrown for 20 touchdowns in a season. McNair threw for 24 touchdowns that season.

With the two touchdown passes on Sunday, Mariota broke Warren Moon's franchise record, set in 1987, with seven consecutive games with at least two passing touchdowns.

On this Sunday, however, the Titans came up short. Murray was stopped on a fourth-and-one late, and the Colts ran out the clock.

The Titans travel to Chicago to face the Bears next Sunday.

"Move on to the next one," Mariota said of the team's mentality moving forward. "It doesn't change our mentality, win or lose. We have to get ready for the next one and that one is coming up quick.

"Any time you lose it (stinks), but it is the nature of this business. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on to the next one. And that is what we have to do. We are in the thick of things, and we just have to find a way to put a few of these together, and when we can, when we are able to do that, this team is going to go to places we want to go."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11 action at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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