This third down is the biggest of Mariota’s career.
— Two Tone Fanatics (@twotonefanatics) January 1, 2018
This was the tweet I sent out prior to Marcus Mariota’s stiff arm on Jacksonville’s Barry Church on Sunday. The play that changed the Titans season. The play that could define Mariota for a long time. Before the play happened, the magnitude of what was to come, good or bad, was clear.
Before the play, stagnant is a kind word for the Titans offense throughout the game. Disastrous is probably closer to the truth. There was no doubt that the Titans defense was going to keep the Bortles led Jaguars offense out of the end zone, but there was a feeling when the Titans were on offense that something bad was going to happen again (they had already botched a handoff that led to a Jags scoop and score). Only it didn’t.
Mariota took the snap on that crucial third down, dropped back looking to pass, then dipped and dodged around the edge where he gave a Heisman-like stiff arm to the Jaguars safety. It was the biggest play of the season for the Titans and the biggest play of Mariota’s young career.
Not only did the play win the game and the season for the Titans, but it changed the way fans look at the team in which they had so much apathy for in weeks prior. Before the game on Sunday, the conversation was about the coaches future, not the team’s. The conversation was about what wasn’t working instead of what was. The conversation was about the offseason, not the postseason.
The fans needed that play, and they needed it from Mariota. With all of the good and bad play from different spots of the team, Mariota proved with that play that his success and failure can be a direct result on the team’s success and failure, and that’s something fans can get behind. We need a leader on the team that can carry the team when needed. Mariota, for the first time in his career, showed the city that he could do that.
Marcus Mariota gave this city a reason to get behind the Titans with one play.
Does that play fix the playcalling? No. Does that play fix the dropped passes? No. Does that play fix coaching flaws? Nope.
Does that play fix the way a fan base roots for their football team? Hell yes it does.
and we’re on to Kansas City.