The Mike Mularkey era started with a bang on Sunday. Marcus Mariota had his best game as a pro, leading the Titans back for a win and out-dueling Drew Brees in the process.
Things weren't looking good for Tennessee at the start. The Saints walked down the field and scored to begin the game. A quick three and out forced a Titans' punt, but New Orleans muffed the punt, giving the Titans great field position. That swing seemed to stabilize the game, giving Tennessee three free points.
From there, Mariota got it going. A lucky bounce that appeared to be a miscommunication turned into a 61 yard touchdown to Delanie Walker.
It was on from there.
Mariota and Brees traded touchdowns for the rest of the day. Mariota was outstanding for the most part coming back from injury. Mularkey delivered on his promise to keep Marcus upright. The offensive line was much improved from last week, giving Mariota plenty of time to pick apart the Saints defense.
An outstanding fourth quarter had the Titans in position to win late. A Marcus Mariota eight yard strike to Justin Hunter brought the Titans within two, and a two point conversion to Delanie Walker tied the game.
The Titans got a stop, giving Mariota the ball at his own ten yard line with just over four minutes left. Mariota moved the ball down the field immediately, hitting Anthony Fasano and Dorial Green-Beckham. The drive stalled after two conservative run calls, leaving Ryan Succop with a 55 yard field goal tried. The kick looked good, but nailed the crossbar, falling just short.
Brees got the ball back with just under two minutes with great field position, but a big time sack from Brian Orakpo stalled their drive. Brees hit Colston over the middle to bring the Saints into field goal position, but the kick was missed.
Mariota got the ball back with 56 seconds left and two timeouts. He hit Justin Hunter over the middle to start, only to have Hunter drop the ball. A deep shot to Dorial Green-Beckham came up empty, forcing a Titans' punt.
Mariota came out firing. Green-Beckham got it rolling, then Andrews bounced a run for 15 yards. A big play to Craig Stevens had the Titans in business. Quick hitters to Douglas, Walker and DGB advanced the ball to the five yard line.
Then it happened.
Marcus Mariota rolled right, then hit Anthony Fasano who leaked out to the left. Game over. Mariota finished 28-39 for 372 and four touchdowns.
The Titans improved to 2-6, still in the hunt for the AFC South shockingly enough. Tennessee will come home to face the undefeated Panthers next week.