Mariota returns to lead Titans past Colts
Marcus Mariota was not great early, but he was perfect late as the Tennessee Titans defeated the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 in NFL action on Monday.
Back from a hamstring injury, the returning Titans quarterback completed all six of his passes in the fourth quarter to lead Tennessee over the Colts at Nissan Stadium.
The Colts got a game effort from Jacoby Brissett, in what might be his final start before Andrew Luck returns. Brissett was 21 of 37 for 212 yards and a touchdown.
After Mariota led a scoring drive that ended in a 48-yard Ryan Succop field goal, Brissett had the Colts in position for a touchdown on Indianapolis' opening series.
The Colts had to settle for a short field goal after a perfectly thrown pass by Brissett was dropped in the end zone by Donte Moncrief. There was no drop on the next Colts drive with tight end Jack Doyle catching an eight-yard touchdown pass.
MARIOTA IS TOUGH
Mariota's mobility was limited coming back from an injured hamstring, but he stood in the pocket and was efficient under pressure. He was rusty early with some high throws, while taking some several big hits. As odd as it may seem, he settled down after throwing a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Mariota finished 23 of 32 for 306 yards and a touchdown, delivering a strike for a 53-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Taywan Taylor while getting hit as the Titans took a 29-22 lead with 5:29 remaining.
BRISSETT CAN BE A NO. 1 QUARTERBACK
Brissett was not quite quick enough to get to the edge as Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard caught him short on a fourth-and-one at the Titans' 13-yard line with 2:19 remaining. He was good in his brief stint with the New England Patriots last year and has been solid in five starts for the Colts this season. It is a small sample size, but Brissett will get a chance to be a starter. If not with the Colts, who are tied to Luck for the long-term, then next season.
EXOTIC SMASHMOUTH IS PRETTY WHEN IT WORKS
As the Titans were trying to run out the clock, Derrick Henry burst for a back-breaking 72-yard touchdown run with 47 seconds remaining. Henry finished with 131 yards on 19 carries and DeMarco Murray also grinded out 40 yards on 12 carries as the Titans had success running behind left tackle Taylor Lewan and right guard Josh Kline, who had a pancake block while pulling on Henry's late touchdown run.
When the Titans can run like they did Monday and get efficiency in the passing game, they could pull away from the inconsistent Jacksonville Jaguars and the shorthanded Houston Texans, who are tied with the Titans at 3-3, in the AFC South.