Mariota catches TD to take headlines off Titans’ dismal performance in 30-8 loss to Jets

With 4:16 to play in the third quarter, the Tennessee Titans had a first down at the Jets’ 41-yard-line. Antonio Andrews lined up in the shotgun formation, with Marcus Mariota split wide to the right. Andrews took the snap, and found Mariota, wide open after Jets defensive back Calvin Pryor fell down, for a 41-yard touchdown. The Titans went for the two-point conversion and got it, as Mariota found Dexter McCluster in the end zone. The Titans’ only problem: the other 59:53 of the game, when they did very little right, were thoroughly outplayed by the New York Jets, and outscored 30-0 to create the 30-8 final.

To be fair, the Titans were sort of okay in the second half, or at least they only gave up 3 points. The problem was the first half, specifically the offense in the first half and the defense in the first half (special teams were mostly blah). The Jets’ first six possessions ended in three touchdowns and three field goal attempts (two successful). None of the Titans’ six first half possessions crossed midfield, not even the one that started at the 43 after New York’s missed field goal. The only possession with multiple first downs was the two-minute drill that ended with the clock mercifully expiring after McCluster gained 8 yards on third-and-22 to get the ball up to the Tennessee 36.

Offensively, the first half problems were running the ball and throwing the ball. McCluster’s 8 yards of garbage represented the majority of the Titans’ first half production on the ground, as their first 7 handoffs produced 4 yards. Attempting to throw the ball did not go much better, as Mariota completed 6 of 14 passes, including some drops by Delanie Walker and Dorial Green-Beckham, among others I may have successfully repressed, and was sacked a couple times by a barely-resisted Mohammad Wilkerson. Overall tally: 17 dropbacks for 60 yards.

Defensively, the first half problems were defending the run and defending the pass. Jets backs were pretty consistently successful and broke into the secondary for several long gains. Overall, the committee picked up 104 yards on 15 carries in the first two quarters. Ryan Fitzpatrick missed several open receivers, but still managed 197 yards passing for three scores plus his normal efficient scrambles for more yards. The worst defensive moment was probably forgetting to cover Brandon Marshall, who got a 69-yard touchdown out of it when he somehow managed to outrun Jurrell Casey, the player closest to actually being in coverage on him as several defensive backs were making questioning expressions to the sideline as the play was snapped. Unless it was Fitzpatrick’s second touchdown, on an angle route where none of Perrish Cox, Michael Griffin, or Cody Riggs covered himself in glory with enthusiastic and proficient tackling. To be fair, singling out even just three Titans defenders is to unfairly exculpate the others.

But hey, Mariota is the first player with a passing, rushing, and receiving TD in the same season since somebody or other, and the first player with a rushing touchdown for 40-plus yards and a receiving touchdown of 40-plus yards since somebody else or other. I’m so glad the Titans busted that play when they were down 27-0 in the third quarter and looking completely inept, and continued looking almost completely inept for the rest of the game.

News and some notes will show up in tomorrow’s snap report. I delayed this recap so I could calm down a little bit, and all writing it has done is make me even more angry. To again bring up Larry Fitzgerald and the 2012 Cardinals, sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying. I did that during the game, successfully, but now I’m just angry again. Maybe I’ll redirect that anger into those Ruston Webster posts, because the Titans played a 7-5 team today and were completely noncompetitive from start to finish.