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Titans QB Marcus Mariota Ready to Make Playoff Debut



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is new to playoff football in the NFL.

When he takes the field on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, he'll suit up for his first postseason game against the Chiefs.

Excitement is in the air, said Mariota, along with big goals.

"Guys want to continue to play, we want to make some noise, and see how far we can take this thing," Mariota said after practice said on Tuesday. "We are just going to take it one week at time. Obviously our goal is to get to the Super Bowl. We are in the mix, we have an opportunity, and we'll do our best to make the most of it.

"Everyone is just really excited. …. It is a clean slate, everyone has an opportunity. There's a chance to go win it all. I think everything kind of intensifies and guys understand every play counts."

Mariota finished the regular season with 3,232 passing yards, with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also ran for 312 yards, and five touchdowns. Mariota ran for a season-high 60 yards on Sunday against the Jaguars.

On Tuesday, Mariota was still being asked about his savage stiff-arm in Sunday's win over Jacksonville, which resulted in a key first down late, and the return of his "swagger," according to his teammates.

Mariota said he's heard a "good amount" from family and friends about the stiff-arm, and said he "just wanted to make a play for the guys."

Mariota laughed off the swagger talk on Tuesday as he turned his attention to the Chiefs.

"It was just me being me," Mariota said with a laugh. "I am going to do whatever it takes to win. This is the time of the season where you just have to lay it all on the line."

He was serious when assessing what the Titans need to do to win in Kansas City. Against the Jaguars, the Titans managed just 11 first downs and 232 yards of offense on a day when the team was just 3-of-16 on third down. Titans receivers were guilty of too many drops.

"We have to be better," Mariota said. "We have to score points, cash in on turnovers, and convert third downs – kind of the same story throughout the year. If we are able to do that and build some rhythm, cash in in the red zone and score points, hopefully that will help lead us to a win."

Some of the Titans should benefit from knowing they beat the Chiefs last year at Arrowhead Stadium, in an intense December game during the chase to the playoffs. Mariota completed 19-of-33 passes for 241 yards in that contest.

And while Mariota has never experienced the postseason in the NFL, he did experience playoff football during his final season at Oregon in 2014. Mariota guided the Ducks to a win over Florida State in the playoff semifinals at the Rose Bowl, but Oregon lost in the title game against Ohio State.

"I think (it helps)," Mariota said. "Obviously it's not to the level or maybe the extent of what it is in this league, but playing in it in college, understanding: This is it. This is what you've worked your entire season for. I think that has kind of helped me through this process and will help me on Saturday."

Titans players take the field for Tuesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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