‘Comeback Kid’ Marcus Mariota lifts Titans to third straight win

It’s time to give the Tennessee Titans and first-year head coach Mike Vrabel some credit.

At 3-1, their only loss was to 3-1 Miami, in that seven-hour, twice storm-interrupted road game in Week 1.

And over the past eight days they’ve defeated two of this year’s Super Bowl favourites. Last week they dumped the Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6, and on Sunday they knocked off the defending-champion Philadelphia Eagles 26-23 in overtime.

Fourth-year Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn’t exactly sparkle early in games, especially this season, but he has become something of a master of the comeback.

No NFL QB has authored more game-winning drives over the past two seasons than Mariota, now with six. Sunday’s was the 11th of his career.

Mariota capped his latest with five seconds left in overtime – lofting a 10-yard throw in the end zone to open receiver Corey Davis. The result dropped the Eagles to 2-2.

“Phenomenal,” Vrabel said of Mariota’s performance, per the team’s website.

“It is hard to describe,” Mariota said of his latest comeback. “I don’t think there is a feeling in the world similar to it … Countless guys made big plays today, and that’s why we were able to win.”

Mariota completed clutch pass after clutch pass on the slow-marching, decisive, 16-play, 75-yard drive, which followed Philadelphia’s overtime-opening field-goal drive.

Tennessee had scored just three points with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, when Mariota and the Titans passing attack warmed up. He finished 30-of-43 for 344 yards and two TDs, and also ran for 46 yards and a score.

“He’s got the comebacks. He’s the comeback kid, for sure,” Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said.

Mariota completed two fourth-down passes on the winning drive, one for 15 yards, one for two.

“His poise is second to none,” said Titans receiver Taywan Taylor, who caught the 15-yarder. “He keeps everybody calm, and he’s under control. He never gets too high or two low, and that’s what we love about him. That’s why he makes some of the clutch plays he makes. He never gets rattled.

“He was so clutch today.”

Cowboys show run-averse Lions how to do it

It’s pretty simple why the Detroit Lions are 1-3.

They’re getting outscored 105-60 over the first three quarters of their four games.

As elite as he is, Lions QB Matthew Stafford can’t bail his team out every week, every year. All the impressive comebacks he has engineered in the previous two or three seasons, perhaps, have veiled serious flaws in coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s offences. A 50-game trend is more than coincidence, isn’t it.

The running backs change in Detroit, the pass catchers alongside Golden Tate change, and the offensive line seemingly gets better by the year. But the bottom-line offensive result – scoring – isn’t improving, at least not anywhere close to consistently.

A big reason is Detroit still cannot run the ball to save their lives. The Lions picked up just four first downs running the ball on Sunday. That screams of an overall scheme and mindset that just does not value running the ball enough. Even though they finally seem to have the talent to do it.

We know LeGarrette Blount can run the football; he has won Super Bowls running the football effectively with both the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. And Detroit’s rookie dump-truck of a runner, big Kerryon Johnson, averaged 6.1 yards per carry on Sunday – same as Cowboys’ star Ezekiel Elliott. The difference is Dallas gave Elliott the rock 25 times, while Detroit handed off to Johnson just nine times.

Detroit trailed 20-10 on Sunday entering the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Despite rallying to take a 24-23 lead with 2:17 left, on a 38-yard Stafford-to-Tate scoring strike, the Lions watched as the host Dallas Cowboys rallied to win, 26-24, on a last-play 38-yard field goal by Brett Maher.

This is all not to say that the Cowboys’ offensive model ought to be copied outright by the Lions.

Elliott might have rushed for the third highest total of his career (152 yards) and added 88 more yards on four gashing catches (one for a touchdown), but the Cowboys understand that when they can run it, the whole offence works at peak efficiency.

Watch and learn, Jim Bob.

Dolphins blow it big-time at New England

It wasn’t so much that the previously 1-2 New England Patriots handily defeated the previously 3-0 Miami Dolphins.

It was the degree to which they manhandled them in a 38-7 home-field victory.

“We really didn’t anticipate getting out-physicalled like the way we did,” Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said. “We had been good all year, the first three games, as far up front and our run game.

“This game, we just couldn’t get anything going. We were getting pushed back, a lot of pressure on (QB) Ryan (Tannehill), even though they weren’t pressuring with blitzes. So when you are getting pressured on three-, four-man rushes that’s going to be an issue. And that’s really what happened, we could not get anything going on offence.”

That’s an understatement. A Patriots defence that had been getting slaughtered through the first three weeks held Miami to just 172 total yards. Tannehill completed 11-of-20 for 100 yards, no TDs and a pick. And six Dolphins rushers gained 56 yards in aggregate.

“We didn’t convert on third down, we didn’t take care of the football, we didn’t gain yardage, we didn’t do anything that we wanted to,” Tannehill said.

It’s only one game, of course, but it’s one that can gnaw at the back of a team’s mind for a whole season. Indeed, it would be hard for any team to so badly blow so huge a chance to put a division rival as perennially dominant as the Patriots have been in the AFC East on the ropes, three games behind in the division standings entering October.

Instead, the Dolphins enter October at 3-1, just a game ahead of the 2-2 Patriots.

“Any time you … have a chance to pull away from somebody in the division – or go 4-0 – I mean, there aren’t a lot of times that opportunity comes about. There’s a reason they haven’t lost three (September) games in, you know, 20 years or whatever it’s been.

“We had an opportunity … I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t think that we would get out-physicalled. That surprised me.”

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies