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Marcus Mariota tosses 4 TDs as Tennessee Titans dominate Green Bay Packers

By
Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- According to Marcus Mariota, the Tennessee Titans' highest-scoring game since 2009 was as simple as getting the ball to the running backs and receivers.

"We have a lot of playmakers here," he said. "They know what to do."

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So did Mariota, who carved up the Green Bay Packers' injury-riddled defense on Sunday for 295 yards and four touchdowns in Tennessee's 47-25 blowout at Nissan Stadium.

In a performance 180 degrees removed from the Titans' usual modus operandi on offense, which is to punish teams with the ground game and move the chains 10 yards at a time, they took control early with big plays and never really let up.

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Tennessee's first snap was a 75-yard touchdown run on a simple off-tackle play to the left by DeMarco Murray 103 seconds into the game. That it occurred after Green Bay recovered an onside kick to start the game, then went 3-and-out, pretty much set a tone that was not reversed.

"Disappointing way to start," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought our run defense against their running game would be a good matchup, but it didn't turn out that way."

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Passes of 21 and 41 yards on the Titans' next possession led to Murray's 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker on a halfback option with 6:58 left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.

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Mariota then went 5 of 5 for 65 yards on the next drive, flipping a 9-yard scoring strike to Anthony Fasano with eight seconds left in the quarter to make it 21-0.

Tennessee outgained Green Bay 231-26 in the quarter as Mariota hit all seven of his passes for 127 yards.

"Throughout the week," wide receiver Tajae Sharpe said, "we saw some things we wanted to take advantage of with the things they like to do. That's why you saw some of the wrinkles with all the tight ends. And Marcus came out on fire."

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Mariota stayed on fire to start the second quarter, hitting Murray on a wheel route for 35 yards to the Green Bay 32 and then finding Rishard Matthews on a corner route in the end zone on the next play to make it 28-7 with 8:45 left.

Mariota didn't have an incompletion until 2:40 remained in the half, and followed up three plays later with his third touchdown after the Titans regained possession at the Green Bay 12 following a muffed punt and unsportsmanlike conduct flag on the Packers.

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His 6-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright with 1:55 remaining not only upped the Tennessee lead to 35-10, it made him the first Titan since Steve McNair in 2003 to reach 20 touchdown passes in a year.

"He's been on fire," Matthews said of Mariota. "I feel bad for some of the defenses that have to try to stop him. And I don't think we've seen his best yet."

Green Bay pulled within 35-22 with 8:53 left in the third quarter when quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambled 20 yards for a touchdown. But Mariota delivered one more response, hitting Sharpe for a 33-yard scoring strike with 6:27 left in the quarter that made it 41-22.

That was pretty much it for the Packers, who racked up good individual numbers but never really threatened in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers completed 31 of 51 passes for 371 yards and two scores, and Jordy Nelson (12 catches, 126 yards, one touchdown) and Davante Adams (6 receptions, 156 yards) enjoyed big games.

But it wasn't enough to keep Green Bay (4-5) from eating its third straight loss, although it did stay a game behind Minnesota and idle Detroit in the NFC North. Green Bay also sustained numerous injuries, playing without three defensive starters by game's end.

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Tennessee (5-5), which stayed 1 1/2 games behind Houston in the AFC South, got 123 yards on 17 rushes from Murray, as well as 124 yards on nine receptions by Walker. Its defense bagged five sacks of Rodgers, including two from Brian Orakpo, and came up with two interceptions.

"I feel like it was a statement game," Matthews said, "and we made a statement."

NOTES: Green Bay's inactives were led by LB Clay Matthews (hamstring) and TE Jared Cook (ankle). Also inactive for the Packers were CB Damarious Randall, RB Don Jackson, OT Kyle Murphy, C/G JC Tretter and DT Christian Ringo. ... Tennessee's inactives were WR Tre McBride, RB David Fluellen, DB Curtis Riley, OLB Aaron Wallace, G Sebastian Tretola, TE Jace Amaro and DL Al Woods. ... The Titans entered the game having scored at least 26 points in five straight games, the first time they've done that since 2003.

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