NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota says he only wants to beat the Jaguars to grab a pivotal divisional game against the AFC South leader.
He has no concerns about returning to the field where his season ended last Christmas Eve with a broken right leg. He had to be carted off to the locker room.
Worse, the injury came late in the third quarter with the Titans trailing 25-10 in a game they needed to win to keep their division title hopes alive. A victory against the Jags, and the following week against the Houston Texans and the Titans would have clinched the franchise’s first AFC South title and playoff berth since 2008.
That’s something Mariota will talk about.
“We didn’t play very well,” Mariota said today. “Left a bad taste in our mouth. You know that’s something I think for a lot of guys lingered throughout the offseason. Obviously, we want to play better. We want to play to our potential.”
Mariota has left Jacksonville with a loss in each of his first two seasons, though the last game was easily his worst yet against the Jaguars.
He was pressured from the start and was 8 of 20 for 99 yards and a touchdown. Then Sheldon Day got the Jaguars’ second sack late in the third quarter, grabbing Mariota around the ankles and taking the quarterback down. Mariota immediately signaled to the sideline and pounded the ground. Trainers put an air cast around his right leg and ankle and put him on a cart.
“Once he was carted off, I knew he was hurt,” Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker said. “Usually Marcus can take a hit, and if he’s hurt he’ll still get up and play. When he couldn’t get up, it hit me. That’s our leader and to see him down and get carted off the field that hurts.”
Mariota needed surgery and couldn’t put weight on his right leg for weeks. But the No. 2 pick overall in 2015 and the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner was ready for the start of training camp.