NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Marcus Mariota came out sizzling on Sunday.
The Titans quarterback completed his first 10 passes, and by the time one of his throws hit the ground, the team had already scored four touchdowns.
Mariota distributed the ball to a number of targets. And after a convincing 47-25 win over the Green Bay Packers, he did his best to pass the praise to others as well. His teammates gave it right back to him.
"It was a combination of a lot of things,'' Mariota said. "The guys up front did a great job of giving us some time, and the receivers did an unbelievable job all day of creating separation, winning their one on one matchups.
"Really, for me, I was just kind of dinking and dunking and letting those guys make plays."
Mariota's teammates, meanwhile, praised the second-year quarterback, who has been on quite a roll of late.
Mariota finished Sunday's game 19-of-26 for 295 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions, and a passer rating of 149.8.
In the past six games, Mariota has 17 touchdowns vs. only three interceptions. Mariota has at least two touchdown passes in six consecutive games, and he's already surpassed his rookie total for touchdown passes on the season with 21. Mariota is the first Titans quarterback since Steve McNair in 2003 to throw for 20 touchdowns in a season. McNair threw for 24 touchdowns that season, when he was named the league's co-MVP.
"He played outstanding,'' Titans rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe, who caught a 33-yard touchdown pass, said of Mariota. "He came out on fire. Every time I looked up at the scoreboard he was perfect in his completions. He is doing a great job leading this team, especially these last couple of weeks when we have been putting up a lot of points on the board. It is something we want to continue doing."
"When he is on, he is on,'' Kelly said of Mariota. "It is fun being on his side when he is playing like that. He made some big plays today."
Titans tight end Delanie Walker took it a step further. He said Mariota's development is a good sign for the rest of this season, and the future of the franchise. He believes Mariota is capable of guiding the Titans to a Super Bowl, like McNair did.
"He can lead us to the promised land,'' Walker said of Mariota. "We can be a Super Bowl team. Is it this year? We'll see. We have to keep playing hard, and win these games. We are going to take it one game at a time...but Marcus is special."
Mariota guided the Titans down the field again and again on Sunday.
After running back DeMarco Murray ran for a 75-yard touchdown before connecting with Walker for a 10-yard touchdown pass early, Mariota got in on the action.
Mariota found tight end Anthony Fasano open for a nine-yard score, and then completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rishard Matthews, which made it 28-7.
Mariota was 10-for-10 to start the game, for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
"I loved it,'' Mariota said of the team's aggressive approach.
Mariota also liked the feel of the win.
"It is a huge stepping stone,'' he said. "It is getting us in the right direction. There's still a lot of season left, a lot of things we have to go and accomplish. But hopefully we can use this as momentum for the rest of the year."
After Sunday's game, Mariota chatted with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
He said it was "awesome." It was the capper to a heck of a day for the quarterback, and the Titans.
For the sixth time in 22 career starts, Mariota accounted for four total touchdowns passing and/or rushing in a game. In NFL history, no player has recorded more four-touchdown performances in his first 22 NFL games.
"He is somebody that I have kind of watched since I was a little kid, and somebody I admired from afar," Mariota said of Rodgers. "To play against him, somebody of that caliber, it was a lot of fun.
"It was nice to talk to him a little bit. He just kind of wished me luck for the rest of the year. So it was kind of cool. Those are experiences that I think a lot of younger players get to have, so it was special."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 10 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)