Marcus Mariota’s regular season debut with the Tennessee Titans could not have gone any better. The start for his opponent, the number one pick of this year’s draft, did not go so well.
Mariota was spectacular today, throwing four touchdown passes as the Titans cruised to a 42-14 victory over the number one pick and the Buccaneers.
The Titans looked nothing like last season, easily passing their highest scoring total of 28. The team, which finished 2-14 the past campaign, selected Mariota with the number two pick.
Mariota spoke with reporters after the big win and said it felt great and that he is proud of the guys in the locker room.
Mariota became only the second player to throw four or more touchdown passes in his first NFL game. The first one to do it was Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. The legendary player did it for Minnesota almost 54 years ago.
The former Oregon quarterback, who fell short of winning the college playoffs last year, completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards. He finished with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player to throw two touchdowns in the first quarter of his NFL regular season debut.
His debut was impressive, especially for those who thought it would take him time to adjust to the NFL. Even Mariota said his performance, as well as the team’s, exceeded his expectations. He gave credit to the offense for playing well and added that he is very fortunate to be part of the group.
Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, who intercepted Winston’s first pass and returned it for a touchdown, praised Mariota for today’s performance. Eight is special, said Sensabaugh of Mariota.
The debut of Mariota was perfect, but the quarterback for the losing side did not start off like many expected. Winston threw an interception on his first pass, which was returned for 26 yards and a score. Winston was picked off again on a screen pass in the second quarter.
Winston also joined a legend in the record books, he became the first quarterback since Favre to have his first pass intercepted and returned for six points in his NFL debut.
The former Florida State quarterback showed some flashes, throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He finished 16 of 33 for 210 yards. He rushed for 18 yards but was sacked four times.
After the game, Winston said Mariota had an amazing game, which didn’t surprise him because he sees the former Oregon player as a great quarterback. This is the second time Mariota beats Winston, one in the NFL and the other in college playoffs.
Winston said it’s OK for fans to wonder if the team made the right choice by selecting him with the number one pick. He believes the Bucs will turn this around and show improvement in the upcoming games. He was seen limping after the game, which probably means that he hasn’t fully recovered from an ankle injury he suffered in the preseason.
Winston said he was comfortable out there but believes the interception returned for a score deflated the offense. He finished by saying it’s not the end of the world and that he can always bounce back.
Will the Bucs turn it around? Will Mariota impress against the Browns in Week 2? Let us know in the comments.