Titans, QB Marcus Mariota Spark Early Again vs. Buccaneers


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was another quick night for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and the first team offense, but once again the group did enough to impress.

Mariota played two series against the Buccaneers in the team's second preseason game.

Mariota guided the team on a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 47-yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver Taywan Taylor to give the Titans a 7-3 drive at the end of the first quarter.

Mariota finished the night 4-of-7 for 80 yards, and the touchdown, with a passer rating of 136.9.

In the team's preseason opener at Green Bay last week, Mariota completed 2-of-3 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in one series of action, finishing with a passer rating of 149.3.

On the team's first series on Saturday night at Nissan Stadium, a drive stalled quickly after one first down, which came on a run from Derrick Henry.

When the team got the ball back, the Titans didn't waste a lot of time before getting into the end zone.

"The first drive didn't really go the way we wanted, but to be able to get a touchdown on the second drive was huge," Mariota said. "And I thought Taywan made a huge play for that."

Running back Dion Lewis provided the early spark on the drive, with a pair of catches and nice gains after darting in and out of would-be tacklers.

Then, on a second-and-one from the Tampa Bay 47, Mariota threw a screen pass to Taylor, and he headed straight to the end zone. Taylor outran Buccaneers safety Justin Evans and everyone else to give the Titans their second touchdown of the preseason under offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.

"We had a plan for him with what we were looking to do and what we were looking to get out of the night," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Mariota, and the first team offense. "We'd like to run the ball a little better with that first group. But, what we did in the second series - it was good to see. We felt like that was the plan coming in."

Back-up quarterback Blaine Gabbert replaced Mariota on the team's third offensive series, with the team leading 7-3. Gabbert completed 10-of-16 passes for 116 yards in the contest, while Luke Falk completed 8-of-12 passes for 64 yards.

The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the the second preseason game for both teams Saturday night at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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