Mariota Returns, Leads Titans to Wild 34-28 Over Saints

Tennessee Titans v New Orleans Saints

The Titans welcomed back their rookie quarterback in a big way on Sunday, as Marcus Mariota was the hero in the Titans second win of the year, a 34-28 win over the Saints in New Orleans.

Mariota was 28 of 39 passing for a personal-best 371 yards and four touchdowns, including a 5-yard scoring pass to Anthony Fasano in overtime for the win.

The Titans hadn’t won since an opening day win over the Buccaneers in Tampa. Between that and today’s win, the team fired coach Ken Whisenhunt and replaced him with new hire Mike Mularkey.

”I’m still shaking,” Mularkey said. ”It was an absolutely great win for this team. They are so competitive and want to win so badly. Never once did they ever flinch. We kept coming back and we had to find a way to win this game.”

Saints QB Drew Brees was 28 of 39 for 387 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored on a short keeper, but the Titans held him late and picked off a pass in the end zone for preserve what could have been a score for the Saints.

The Titans defense also sacked Brees three times, and put pressure on him helping with the win.

The Saints took a 28-20 lead on Brees’ short pass to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui shortly after Brian Orakpo was called for a double unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing a flag thrown against teammate David Bass for a high hit on a sack.

The Titans responded with Mariota’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter, followed by a 2-point conversion to Delanie Walker, who also caught a pair of touchdown passes and finished with seven receptions for 95 yards.

The 2-6 Titans will be in action against the undefeated Panthers at home next Sunday.

Titans vs Saints NFL Week Nine Inactives

Titans inactives: QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Kendall Wright, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Jason McCourty, G Quinton Spain, DE Ropati Pitoitua, DT Mike Martin

Saints inactives: LB Dannell Ellerbe, CB Damian Swann, LB Ramon Humber, LB Hau’oli Kikaha, QB Luke McCown, DT Kaleb Eulls, T Tony Hills

Whisenhunt’s Job May Have Come Down to Leaving Injured Rookie Mariota In

Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans

The hit that injured Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota’s knee last month may have been the beginning of the end for Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired Tuesday morning in a move that caught just about everyone around the team off-guard, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports.

Mariota didn’t miss a snap Oct. 18 after a low, late hit from Miami Dolphins end Olivier Vernon left the No. 2 overall draft pick with a sprained medial collateral ligament, even though Mariota initially was limping to the point it was unclear whether he could protect himself.

Wearing a brace on his left knee after halftime, Mariota finished with four turnovers. He took another illegal, high hit from Vernon. The Titans were down 38-10 before Whisenhunt finally pulled Mariota in the final two minutes.

Mariota hasn’t played since. He also has been dealing with a high ankle sprain since Week 1. And Titans interim president/CEO Steve Underwood made clear Tuesday that controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk is keeping close tabs on the situation.

Asked in a media conference if there was concern from ownership that leaving in Mariota against Miami caused additional damage, Underwood said: “I didn’t hear that exact concern. (But Strunk) has repeatedly mentioned Marcus’ health to me.

“I think she actually spoke to Mike (Mularkey, the Titans’ interim coach) about it this morning. I know she he had talked to Ken about it and to Ruston (Webster, the general manager). She’s very concerned about making sure that we do everything that’s necessary, including keeping him out of games, in order to avoid making his current injuries any worse.”

Titans Fire Coach Ken Whisenhunt, Name Mike Mularkey Interim Coach

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans

The Titans have fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt, firing him just two seasons into the job.

The team has named assistant coach Mike Mularkey the interim coach for now.

Whisenhunt was just 3–20 in his second season with the Titans. This season the only win the Titans had was opening day against the Buccaneers on the road.

“After thoughtful consideration, the decision has been made to relieve Ken Whisenhunt of his head coaching duties,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement.

“We have expected more progress on the field, and I felt it was time to move in a different direction. I would like to thank Ken for his efforts with our team, as he worked very hard to try to move us forward.”

Whisenhunt inked a five-year contract with Tennessee last January. As for Mularkey, he has coached in the NFL for more than 20 years, including two years as the head coach for the Buffalo Bills and one at the helm of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Titans Overwhelmed by Texans Defense; Fall in Houston 20-6

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans

After a solid home effort last week in a 10-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, this week the Titans were no match on the road against the rival Houston Texans, falling 20-6 to drop to 1-6 on the season.

The Titans haven’t seen a ‘W’ since their opening day blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa. Since then it’s been inept play on both sides of the ball, and that again reared its ugly head on Sunday.

”It’s hard when you lose one game, much less what’s happened the last six,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

”Our defense is playing really well. That gives you a chance. Got to fix (those) special teams mistakes and do a better job offensively.”

The Titans led 3-0 early after Ryan Succop made a 35-yard field goal on their opening drive, but that seemed be the highlight of their offense, as they ended the day with 211 yards despite holding the ball for 31:08.

Zach Mettenberger got the start at QB again for the Titans for the injured Marcus Mariota, and was 22-for-31 for 171 yards with a pick as well as he lost a fumble.

The Titans on the day committed three turnovers, to zero for the Texans which was a key in the setback.

The offensive line for the Titans was no match for the Texans, as on the day Mettenberger was hit 14 times, and sacked 7 times.

“We played like (expletive) today,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said of the offensive line. “We’re upset about it. We need to do better. I need to do better.”

The two Texan defensive ends had their way with the Titans, as J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus had six of Houston’s seven sacks and 13 of the 14 hits.

Lewan, who has been fighting injuries, allowed at least two of the sacks, and rookie tackle Jeremiah Poutasi was also beaten several times.

“It was obvious he was struggling out there today,” Whisenhunt said of Poutasi. “We tried to get him through it, but it was just tough.”

The Texans scored on two Brian Hoyer TD passes, the first to DeAndre Hopkins from 21 yards out, and the second to former Titans WR Nate Washington from 42 yards out to make it 17-6 late in the third quarter.

The Titans will be back at it next week as they travel to play Drew Brees and the Saints next Sunday in New Orleans.

Titans at Texans NFL Week Eight Inactives

Titans inactives: QB Marcus Mariota, CB Perrish Cox, RB Terrance West, G Quinton Spain, WR Harry Douglas, DE Ropati Pitoitua, DT Mike Martin

Texans inactives: CB Kareem Jackson, LB Akeem Dent, C Greg Mancz, LB Benardrick McKinney, WR Cecil Shorts, S Rahim Moore, LB Kourtnei Brown

Titans at Texans Wednesday Injury Report

TENNESSEE TITANS
 
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday CB Perrish Cox (hamstring), WR Harry Douglas (ribs), C Andy Gallik (concussion)
 
  LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday S Michael Griffin (knee), QB Marcus Mariota (knee), CB Jason McCourty (hamstring)
 
  FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday DT Sammie Lee Hill (knee)
 
HOUSTON TEXANS
 
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday G Brandon Brooks (toe), LB Jadeveon Clowney (illness), LB Akeem Dent (hamstring), CB Kareem Jackson (ankle), LB Benardrick McKinney (concussion), T Derek Newton (toe), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring), DE J.J. Watt (back)
 
  FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday S Quintin Demps (hamstring), C Ben Jones (thumb), RB Chris Polk (knee), RB Jay Prosch (knee)

Titans vs Texans NFL Week Eight Capsule

TENNESSEE TITANS (1-5) AT HOUSTON TEXANS (2-5)

SERIES

  TITANS TEXANS
SERIES LEADER 15-11  
STREAKS   5 of past 6
COACHES VS. OPP. Ken Whisenhunt: 1-2 Bill O’Brien: 2-0
LAST WEEK L 10-7 vs. Falcons L 44-26 at Dolphins
LAST GAME 11/30/14: Titans 21 at Texans 45. Houston QB Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 358 yards & 6 TDs (147.5 passer rating). Texans DE J.J. Watt records 2 sacks & catches 1-yard TD pass.
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/30/14
REFEREE Clete Blakeman
BROADCAST CBS (12:00 PM CT): Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots. SIRIUS: 81 (Ten.), 93 (Hou.). XM: 226 (Hou.).

STATS

PASSING Mariota (R): 103-161-1239-9-5-93.2 OR

Mettenberger: 27-43-250-1-2-67.0

Hoyer: 106-180-1346-11-3-95.7
RUSHING McCluster: 35-176-5.0-0 Blue: 60-234-3.9-1
RECEIVING Walker (TE): 29-299-10.3-1 Hopkins: 58 (T2L)-776 (1L)-13.4-5
OFFENSE 326.3 383.6
TAKE/GIVE -4 -5
DEFENSE 324.3 (3C) 370.9
SACKS Morgan: 4.5 Watt: 6 (3C)
INTs Sensabaugh: 2 Hal: 2
PUNTING Kern: 44.5 Lechler: 46.2
KICKING Succop: 29 (14/14 PAT; 5/5 FG) Novak: 20 (11/12 PAT; 3/4 FG)

NOTES

TITANS: QB MARCUS MARIOTA (No. 2 overall) has 2+ TD passes in 3 of 5 career starts. Leads NFL rookies in passer rating (93.2) & is tied for 1st among rookies with 9 TD passes. QB ZACH METTENBERGER passed for 187 yards & TD in 1st start of season last week. Has TD pass in 6 of 7 career starts, incl. 3 multi-TD games…RB ANTONIO ANDREWS led team with career-high 57 rush yards vs. Falcons. RB BISHOP SANKEY (934) need 66 scrimmage yards to reach 1,000 career…In 3 career starts vs. Hou., WR KENDALL WRIGHT has 16 catches for 228 yards & 2 TDs, incl. 132 yards & TD in last meeting. Last week, TE DELANIE WALKER led team with 7 catches for 55 yards. Since 2014, ranks 3rd among AFC TEs with 1,189 receiving yards. Aims for 10th consecutive game with 3+ rec…LB DERRICK MORGAN has 7.5 sacks & 2 FF in past 9. LB ZACH BROWN leads team with 39 tackles. LB AVERY WILLIAMSON posted 1st career INT last week. Since entering NFL in 2011, DT JURRELL CASEY ranks 3rd amongst AFC DTs with 24.5 sacks… TEXANS: In past 4, QB BRIAN HOYER has completed 88 of 146 (60.3) for 1,110 yards with 10 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 101.1 rating, incl. 273 yards & 3 TDs last week vs. Dolphins. Aims for 3rd in row with 3 TDs & 5th in row with 2+ TDs…In last start (9/27/15 vs. TB), RB ALFRED BLUE rushed for 139 yards on 31 att. (94.5 avg.) with TD. Blue (897) needs 103 scrimmage yards to reach 1,000 career…WR DE ANDRE HOPKINS leads team with 58 catches, tied for 2nd-most of any NFL player through team’s 1st 7 games to begin season. In past 5, has 44 catches for 625 yards & 3 TDs, incl. 4 100-yard games. WR NATE WASHINGTON had team-high 9 catches for 127 yards & 2 TDs last week. Spent 6 seasons with Titans (2009-14)…In past 12, J.J. WATT has 17 sacks, 2 FF, FR, safety, 7 PDs & TD catch, incl. 2 sacks vs. Dolphins. Since entering NFL in 2011, leads league with 63 sacks. LB BRIAN CUSHING leads team with 55 tackles.