NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here's a look at six things that stood out – good and bad -- from Sunday's win over the Lions:
Marcus Mariota wasn't perfect on Sunday. The Titans quarterback was guilty of holding the ball too long on a few occasions, he threw an interception on a deep ball, and he didn't drink enough water (that's why he was cramping). But he was golden when it mattered most. Mariota was 11-of-13 for 107 yards, with two touchdowns and a 140.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter. On the game-winning drive, he completed all nine of his attempts – to five different targets -- for 74 yards and a touchdown. It's a great sign moving forward for the Titans.
DeMarco Murray's highlight-reel play came on his 67-yard bolt from the backfield, when he raced into the open field after busting through a hole created by some solid blocking on the right side of the line. I noticed tight ends Phillip Supernaw, Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano all there clearing the way on the play. But it was also impossible not to notice Murray's value in the passing game. He led the team with seven receptions on Sunday, and he really came up big on the game-winning drive. Murray's 145 scrimmage yards were the most by a Titans running back since Chris Johnson totaled 170 scrimmage yards (150 rushing, 20 receiving) vs the Rams in 2013.
Perrish Cox didn't have one of his best games on Sunday. He was the first to admit it in the locker room at Ford Field. He had some missed tackles, and penalties. But the Titans cornerback came up big when the Titans needed him, too, sliding over in the defense to intercept quarterback Matthew Stafford's final pass of the day. It earned him a big hug from defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and probably saved him from catching some grief this week.
Yes, they were brutal both ways. The two teams combined for 29 in all, and that number includes 12 from the Titans. Way too many of those came on special teams, and it's one of the reasons the Titans had so many drives begin inside their own 10-yard line. The Titans were fortunate the Lions were more mistake-prone in this area, because the yellow flags really hurt the Lions – penalties negated two Detroit touchdowns.
The Lions have some playmakers, no doubt. But the Titans let them off the hook on several occasions with some suspect tackling in the open field. Cox took the blame for some of his woes here, but he wasn't alone. During the course of the game I jotted down notes on numerous plays when ball carriers should've been stopped, only to see them break free for more yards, and first downs. The Titans need to clean this up as well.
OK, so while tackling could've been better, the defense deserves mostly props – opposing teams have scored just one touchdown (and six field goals) in two games. Not bad. One of the best developments on Sunday centered on the resurgence of the pass rush. After going without a sack in Week One, the Titans sacked Stafford four times on Sunday. Linebacker Brian Orakpo had two, defensive lineman Karl Klug had one, and linebacker Kevin Dodd recorded his first career sack. I'm giving linebacker Derrick Morgan an assist here, too. No, he didn't play, but he sent a text to Orakpo before the game that really got him riled up.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Detroit Lions in Week 2 action at Ford Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)