Titans Waste Solid Effort from QB Marcus Mariota



SANTA CLARA, Calif. –** The Titans broke out the no-huddle offense here on Sunday, and it was no problem for quarterback Marcus Mariota.

After struggling last week in Arizona, Mariota looked at ease against the 49ers. He was on target on a day when the Titans had their most productive offensive performance in more than a month.

"I thought Marcus played great," Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. "When you are the quarterback a lot of pressure is on you, but we have to help him."

Unfortunately, the Titans didn't help Mariota enough in a 25-23 loss to the 49ers. Even after Mariota guided the Titans on a go-ahead drive in the final minutes, the Titans lost the lead on defense in heartbreaking fashion.

It spoiled a nice day for Mariota, who completed 23-of-33 passes for 241 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 110.8 yards.

"It is nice to score some points, but we didn't make enough plays," Mariota said. "At the end we shouldn't put our defense in that situation. It is something we can build on.

"For us, we just have to go out there and put a complete game together where all phases are playing at the top level. I think we're close, and I trust these guys can get it done next game."

After the Titans fell behind 16-3 in the first half, Mariota guided a six-play, 79-yard drive just before halftime, and capped it off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Walker.

While operating primarily out of the no-huddle, Mariota then executed a 14-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop. The Titans then took the lead with Mariota found receiver Rishard Matthews on a third-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The Titans had fought back for a 20-16 leading, using the no-huddle as a spark.

"That's just something we felt like going in was a good way to attack them," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "It was a part of the game plan."

Mariota looked comfortable running it. On Sunday, the Titans racked up 328 yards of offense, and 23 first downs – the most in a game since November 12 against the Bengals. The Titans managed just 14 first downs in a 12-7 loss at Arizona last Sunday.

"I thought we were very efficient," Mariota said. "It's a package that we practice every single day. Guys trust it, and I felt we did a good job of being able to execute it.

"We thought if we got into no huddle we could attack them downfield and do some different things. It is something we are comfortable with, so at any point we can get into it. Today we were able to execute, and the guys felt good."

But the Titans weren't able to make it a winning plan because of mistakes, and the inability to close the door.

Walker dropped a would-be touchdown in the end zone, and he also lost a fumble.

While Mariota drove the Titans into field goal range late – Succop's 50-yard field goal with 1:07 gave the team the lead – the offense wasn't able to use more of the clock and potentially make it impossible for the 49ers to win because a third-and-two run by DeMarco Murray was stuffed.

The 49ers used the extra time to drive the field and win it with a kick of their own.

"I thought we played pretty well, but we didn't play great today. Not good enough," Walker said. "I had a few mistakes. That pass (Marcus) threw in the end zone touched my fingertips, and I have to catch that. A fumble -- I take a lot of that and put in on me. I feel like I carry the team, and if I have a bad game I feel like it trickles down. We have to clean it up."

With two games left, the Titans are on the spot.

They need to be more consistent, and they need to win.

The Los Angeles Rams are up next.

"I believe in those guys," Mariota said of his teammates. "We have the ability to score points, and that is why it has been disappointing these last few weeks when we haven't been able to score. And we can go out there and do it, and we have to go out there and do it on a consistent basis."

The Tennessee Titans take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15 at Levi's Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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