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Breaking Down Marcus Mariota vs. the Chiefs

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It was another slow start for the Titans, but Mariota was able to finish the first half strong.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After just short of five days rest, the Titans took the field against the Chiefs.  It was an understandable slow start, but Marcus Mariota rallied the troops to score ten unanswered points to finish the half.

Mariota got his first in-game look at a 3-4 defense tonight, going up against Bob Sutton's talented front seven.  Just like the rest of the entire team, it took Mariota a couple of drives to get in rhythm.  When he did, he just gave us more reasons for optimism.

After an 0-2 start, Mariota came back strong.  In a night where the Titans couldn't muster much on the ground, Mariota was basically the entire offense.  We finally saw some of his athletic ability come to the forefront against one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.  Marcus scrambled twice and took what looked like a designed run off left tackle.  He totaled three carries for 22 yards on the night.

Mariota's best came through the air once again.  The first of two plays that really stood out was a 30 yard crossing pattern to Kendall Wright.  Wright gained a step streaking across the field and Mariota put it on the money.  Here's the play at full speed.  It doesn't get much better than this.

My favorite play of the night came later on this drive.  It was a second and long and Justin Houston got a free release.  Marcus stood in the pocket and delivered, despite Houston in hot pursuit.  Mariota got hit, but the damage had already been done.

Mariota's final drive got into the endzone.  Antonio Andrews punched it in from the goalline, narrowing Kansas City's lead to seven.  Mariota finished 7-11 for 99 yards.

Every time we think Marcus is getting rattled, he's responded quickly.  I've said it each week, but his ability to bounce back from slow starts is huge.  It's been my favorite thing about him to this point.  That trait alone will pay dividends down the road.  We'll get one more tune-up viewing of Mariota and the Titans next week, then it starts for real.  All aboard the Marcus hype train!