DETROIT, Mich. —** The Titans sputtered early in the Motor City, but got revved up just in time.
The result was a head-spinning, 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions.
"I just think we learned some lessons about ourselves today,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "I think we know who we are and what we are capable of doing. … (The players) came back, and finished the game. I was really proud of the grit this team showed."
Quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with receiver Andre Johnson on a nine-yard touchdown pass to give the Titans the lead with 1:13 left.
When Detroit got the ball back, cornerback Perrish Cox intercepted Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford with 22 seconds remaining to end it.
It capped a gutsy comeback for the Titans, who trailed 15-3 after three quarters. The Titans celebrated in the locker room afterward at Ford Field. Jon Robinson was awarded a game ball for his first win as general manager, and Mularkey also received one for his first win as the team's permanent head coach.
"This is what we are all about this year -- knowing how to finish games,'' said linebacker Brian Orakpo, who had two sacks. "This is just one step closer to many more to come hopefully."
Trailing 15-3, Mariota connected with tight end Delanie Walker for a 30-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 15-10.
The two teams exchanged possessions until the Titans got the ball with 7:04 remaining.
Then came the 13-play, 83-yard drive for the Titans. The game-winning pass came on a 4th and 4. Johnson caught the ball in between two defenders. The Titans converted two third downs earlier on the drive.
"He made a great play," Mariota said of Johnson. "I just tried to give him a chance, and he made a huge play."
The Titans improved to 1-1 with the win.
Things weren't pretty early, as the Titans trailed 12-3 at the half.
Running back DeMarco Murray was tackled in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter, and the Lions made it 9-0 when Stafford connected with receiver Anquan Boldin for a 24-yard touchdown.
A 46-yard field goal by Succop made it 9-3, but the Lions added a field goal by Matt Prater to make it 12-3 at the half, which ended with the first career sack by rookie linebacker Kevin Dodd.
The Lions stretched their lead to 15-3 on another Prater field goal with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
But the Titans rallied to win it.
Mariota finished the game 25-of-33 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Murray carried the ball 12 times for 89 yards, and also caught seven passes for 56 yards.
Murray and other members of the offensive unit applauded the effort of the defense for keeping the team in it. In two games, the Titans defense has allowed just one touchdown.
The Titans sacked Stafford four times in the game, and held the Lions to just three points in the second half. In their season opener last week, the Lions won 39-35 over the Colts.
Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said the win provided a big positive, but he said the team needs to make sure it serves as a building block.
The Titans face the Raiders next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
"Last year, we won (the season opener) and everyone overreacted,'' Lewan said. "The past two years we haven't won two games in a row and we need to break that streak.
"I don't think we have arrived until we've won the Super Bowl. So I don't want anybody to overreact to this. The team played together and we won, and it was awesome to get a win. But we have to now find a way to win two games in a row."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Detroit Lions in Week 2 action at Ford Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)