Protection Plan: Titans Pull QB Marcus Mariota After Just Two Series vs. Steelers

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NASHVILLE – Marcus Mariota's night was a quick one on Sunday night at Nissan Stadium.

The Titans quarterback played just two series in the team's third preseason game against the Steelers before leaving the contest. Backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill took the field with 4:25 left in the first quarter, as Mariota put on a baseball cap.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel indicated the team had planned to play Mariota more, but with problems protecting him, he made the decision to pull his starting quarterback.

"We want to make sure that we can protect our quarterback -- that's important," Vrabel said. "It's imperative that we do that as a staff and we do that as an offensive group. … I wanted to see how the game was going, and at that point in time I thought it was in the team's best interest and in everybody's best interest that we get him out of the game at that point in time."

Everyone agreed it was a forgettable night for Mariota, and the Titans first-team offense, in an 18-6 loss to the Steelers.

"Not the way we wanted to come out to play," Mariota said. "A lot to learn from, but at the same time you have to continue to build. You can't hang your head, you just have to learn from it and move on."

Mariota went 0-of-3, and he was sacked in the end zone for a safety, which gave the Steelers a 2-0 lead. Mariota saw one of his passes dropped by receiver Adam Humphries, and another went off the hands of rookie receiver A.J. Brown after he was hit as the ball reached him.

The performance came on the heels of a nice outing vs. the Patriots, when Mariota completed 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown – an 11-yard strike to tight end Delanie Walker.

In three preseason contests, Mariota has completed 10 of 20 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.

The Titans wrap up the preseason on Thursday night at Chicago. A year ago, Mariota didn't play in the preseason finale.

"We need better consistency," Mariota said. "But at the same time, it is a process. It's one of those deals we can learn from. It's not the way we wanted to finish the preseason, if it is the last series or two, but at the same time there were a lot of good things over the course of training camp and the month leading up into the regular season. You just have to build off it and be ready to go for Week One."

Titans players arrive at Nissan Stadium for Sunday night's Week 3 preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photos: Donald Page)

The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 of the preseason Sunday night at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page, AP)

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