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Keeping Up With Marcus Mariota: Week 13, 2018

It wasn’t one of his better games, but Mariota did just enough for the Titans to pull off a comeback to save their season.

NFL: New York Jets at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I know most of the coverage is on the Titans-Jaguars game this week and this is a little late, but I figured we’d take one last look at the Jets-Titans game.

Also, for the first time this season, the Titans won a game I picked them to win. Previously I had picked them to win three times (Miami, Bills, Colts) and they lost all three games. My infamous curse (for now) is broken!

Anyway, let’s focus on the main subject of this article; Marcus Mariota. Mariota started this game out extremely rough, throwing for 11 yards on his first four completions. The Titans managed to erase a 16-point deficit to come back and win 26-22 as Mariota completed 20 of 35 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

For a large part of the game, Mariota looked completely out of sorts. Pressure did have an impact but he was generally missing throws he’s made for a large part of the season. He did get better as the game went on, but overall it was a mixed bag performance from the quarterback.

For more, let’s briefly look at some of Mariota’s throws in this week’s edition of Keeping Up With Marcus Mariota.

Mariota’s pick six was ugly, there’s no doubt in that. Cameron Batson is running a shallow crossing route and Trumaine Johnson reads it perfectly, basically running the route for him. At this time Mariota is looking off the middle of the field, hoping to get an opening for Batson on a 3rd and short.

However, Mariota fires as soon as he turns his head back to Batson and doesn’t pull the ball back. Could Batson have ran this route better than he did? Maybe, but there’s still no excuse for making this poor of a decision.

Mariota was lucky to get away with one interception though, as later in the game he forced a dropped pick intended for Corey Davis.

Yeah....moving on.

Mariota would later connect with Taywan Taylor when it mattered, but this was an ugly miss on what should have been a touchdown. Mariota completed 57% of his passes on Sunday and the stats match the eye test, as he was off for a majority of the game.

The pass protection holds up long enough for Mariota to get the ball off on play action, and there’s no one in Taylor’s area code. When you miss these long, wide open downfield throws with not a lot to offset it, you’re holding your team back, and obviously Mariota would’ve loved to had that throw back.

Fortunately, Mariota made up for his misses when it counted, connecting with Taylor and Davis toward the end of the game.

This is one of the best throws I’ve seen Mariota make. It’s a zone read play on 1st and 10, and Mariota climbs to the right of the pocket to better position himself. He has plenty of time to adjust and loft this ball to Taylor. The trajectory and precision of this pass are both beautiful, and you cannot do it better than this.

And kudos to Taywan Taylor for making some nice catches downfield. He’s been more of a screen/intermediate receiver on the field, but with the playbook opened up in the second half he really stepped up with a couple of big catches. Taylor finished with three catches for 104 yards on the day, a career high.

The Titans’ game winning drive was aided by a couple of massive penalties by the Jets defense, but Mariota also had a huge 25-yard run that allowed the Titans to keep moving the ball.

Mariota fumbled at the end (not shown due to the size limit of GIFs), but recovered it, and a face mask penalty further advanced the ball. Later the Titans faced a 3rd and goal trailing 22-19. Either way they could force the game into overtime or attack the jugular and go for the win.

They elected to do the latter, and they chose wisely.

As frustrating as Matt LaFleur has been this season, this is a great play call. LaFleur puts in a bunch set on the near side, and this spreads the defense out thanks to the route combinations. Mariota is able to make the easy pass to Corey Davis, who takes it for a first down and the game winning touchdown all at once.

Marcus Mariota had some really bad plays in this one, but managed to mix it in with some impressive plays as the second half went on. This is definitely a game Mariota would like to forget in terms of consistency, but at least he did enough for Tennessee to (somehow) win this one.