NASHVILLE – Marcus Mariota left his feet twice on Sunday – and he took some big hits as a result.
After Sunday's game, the Titans quarterback explained he was trying to make plays without worrying about the bumps and the bruises. Mariota acknowledged he probably needs to play smarter.
"The first one was not a smart decision, no doubt," Mariota said. "The second one I was just kind of naturally doing it – it was instinctive. It is hard to take that out of my game because it is something I have always done. I can definitely learn from the first one because it was completely a bad decision."
Mariota had bigger things on his mind after Sunday's game, however.
The Titans came up on the short end of a 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on a day when the offense squandered opportunities and failed to produce when it mattered most.
Trailing with 1:07 left, the Titans got the ball back on their own 28-yard line with a chance to win it. The plan was to get kicker Cairo Santos in a position for a game-winning field goal, but it didn't happen. The drive stalled on the Indianapolis 45-yard line when Mariota's pass to receiver A.J. Brown fell incomplete.
"We had full belief to go down there and score, and we thought if we got into their territory, anywhere near, he would have a chance to put it up," Mariota said. "Looking back on it, wish we would have gotten a few more chances to get the ball down the field. I have to do a better job of the operation … so that maybe we have a chance to gain a first down."
Mariota kicked himself for spiking the ball on the 3rd and 2 play just prior to the incompletion to Brown, which gave the team just one play to convert.
"Looking back on it," Mariota said, "I should have run a different play instead of clocking it and that is totally on me."
The reality is the Titans had a lot of chances earlier in the game, and they failed to capitalize on many of them.
Mariota completed 19-of-28 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the contest – a four-yard completion to tackle David Quessenberry.
But the Titans went just 1-of-10 on third down opportunities in the game, and had too many drives stall because of poor starts on first down. The Titans created two turnovers on defense that gave the offense the ball in good field position but managed just three points.
And while the Titans put together a beautiful 10-play, 72-yard drive that ended with Quessenberry's touchdown catch, and then another short drive that ended with a Derrick Henry touchdown run, too many other drives never got going.
The Titans had four three-and-outs in the game while managing just 242 yards of offense on the day.
"We have to be better on third down as an offense, and sustain drives," Mariota said. "Our defense gave us opportunities to score more points and we just didn't capitalize on that.
"(Third-and-long situations) in this league it is tough. We just have to go back and learn from what we did and get in third and manageable and sustain drives."
Mariota, who threw three touchdowns in the team's Week One win at Cleveland, also blamed himself for holding the football too long on some occasions.
He was sacked four times on the day.
"I just try to go make plays for my team, and sometimes just learning to get rid of the ball is probably the best play,'" Mariota said. "But we'll go back and look at it and learn from it."
The Titans must get some things fixed in a hurry.
Next up is a game at Jacksonville on Thursday night.
"We let one slip for sure," Mariota said. "But we have to move on from it and we have a quick turnaround – another division opponent and we can't hang our heads at all. I am looking forward to the challenge (vs. Jacksonville) and we have to get one back."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in their 2019 home opener at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)