Nashville, Tenn. — Marcus Mariota shuffled around the pocket, carefully protecting a strained left hamstring that already cost him one game this season.
So the quarterback known for his legs showed off his arm.
Mariota threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor with 5:29 left, and the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 on Monday night to snap an 11-game skid tied for the NFL’s longest active losing streak against one team.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Mariota followed their instructions, doing whatever he could to lessen the risk of further injury.
“He’s as tough as I’ve been around and made some throws that were, obviously that one to Taywan was a big throw,” Mularkey said. “It was a real big throw. I mean he did. He played well.”
Mariota was 23 for 32 for a season-high 306 yards. He completed each of his three passes on the drive that ended with Taylor’s tiebreaking score.
The Titans (3-3) stopped a two-game slide and moved into a tie for the AFC South lead with Jacksonville and Houston.
Jacoby Brissett tried to rally the Colts (2-4) to a second straight overtime. But Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard forced Brissett out of bounds shy of the first-down marker on fourth-and-inches with 2:19 left before going toward midfield to celebrate.
Coach Chuck Pagano lost his challenge of the spot and said he wouldn’t blame officials.
“Disappointing to say the least,” Pagano said. “Got to play 60 minutes. It’s a recurring thing I know that.”
The Titans were pleased to put their skid against the Colts behind them.
“We feel like every game’s a must-win, but this was definitely a must-win, especially with the 11-game streak on the line,” Woodyard said. “We came in and answered the call.”
Derrick Henry clinched the win for Tennessee with a 72-yard TD run with 47 seconds left. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, finished with a career-high 131 yards on 19 carries. DeMarco Murray also scored.
The Titans looked like the NFL’s worst scoring defense in the first half instead of Indianapolis, with Brissett directing the Colts to a 13-9 halftime lead. John Simon then intercepted Mariota’s first pass of the third quarter and returned it 26 yards for a TD.
But the Titans forced the Colts to go three-and-out on three of their first four drives of the second half, and Avery Williamson stripped tight end Jack Doyle of the ball after a catch.
“It’s a long season,” Mariota said. “You’re going to have to play with some sort of nick or ding. I’m just really happy for the guys. I mean they did a great job of putting protection up front.”
Tennessee kicker Ryan Succop went 5 for 5 to break the NFL record for most consecutive successful field goals inside of 50 yards. He connected from 48, 32 and 40 yards in the first half and then hit from 23 and 48 yards in the third.
Succop began the day tied with Matt Bryant, who connected on 46 straight field goals inside 50 yards between 2013 and 2015 for the Atlanta Falcons.
Adam Vinatieri, the Colts’ accomplished kicker, got three field goals himself, including a 52-yarder. But he missed an extra point off the left upright.
The Colts’ team message got a prime-time audience with outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard wearing a black T-shirt with the message “We Will” over his jersey during the coin toss. On the back were the words “Stand For: Equality Justice Unity Respect Dialogue Opportunity.”
The Colts have been wearing these T-shirts during pregame warmups for the last couple of weeks.
A handful of Titans, including defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, raised a fist into the air after the national anthem ended. Wide receiver Rishard Matthews stayed off the field during the anthem for a third straight game.
Meeting on anthem
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners of each team, representatives of the players’ union and players themselves will meet Tuesday to discuss ways to “move from protest to progress.”
Among the topics will be enhancing their platforms for speaking out on social issues, and the league’s policy that suggests but does not mandate players standing for the national anthem.
There is a quiet mandate, though, for those discussions: figuring out how to get the attention back on those social issues, not how they are being publicized.
And getting the attention back on football.
“We are proud to be able to work with our players to highlight these issues to really put focus on the issues and how the game and the NFL and our players bring communities together when we are divided,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
Goodell emphasized the need for productive dialogue among the owners and players when he sent a memo to the teams last week. He also invited players’ union chief DeMaurice Smith and a group of players to attend the regularly scheduled meetings.
What are they likely to discuss before the owners get back to their usual October league business?
For one, demonstrations during the anthem will be a high-priority topic. Goodell has noted the NFL will have a plan ready to present to the players regarding the anthem.
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote last week. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.
“We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
Certainly on Tuesday’s agenda will be options presented by both sides on how to get the message across without it being misinterpreted.
While the backlash has been loud from those who believe the players have been protesting against the anthem or the American flag or the military, everyone involved with the league is seeking clarity.
As Lockhart has noted: “Owners across the league have spoken out on where they stand. The important thing now will be coming together as an ownership group to try to have a common position — a position that either affirms where we are now, or perhaps adjusts where we are now.”
With input from the NFLPA and its members.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he thinks NFL players should stop protesting during the national anthem and instead speak out against domestic violence.
Walker, a Republican and former presidential hopeful, sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith saying he believes players are showing disrespect for the flag and veterans. Players should drop the “divisive political sideshow” and speak out against domestic violence instead, the governor wrote.
... NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels quickly apologized after making a joke about Harvey Weinstein during “Sunday Night Football.”
Michaels mused in the middle of the third quarter of the game between the New York Giants and Denver Broncos that the Giants were “coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein.” His on-air partner Cris Collinsworth replied with a laugh and told Michaels “only my L.A. guy comes up with that one.”
The comment got a negative reaction on social media and Michaels apologized in the fourth quarter for “being a little flip” with his reference to Weinstein, who faces sexual misconduct allegations. Michaels added that “it was not meant in that manner.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have surgery on his broken right collarbone, and his season could be over.
... Teddy Bridgewater has been cleared to rejoin the Vikings for practice, roughly 14 months after a dislocation and multiple ligament tears in his left knee put his leg and career at risk.
... The Raiders agreed with linebacker NaVorro Bowman on a one-year, $3 million contract.
Bowman was released on his request last Friday after seven-plus seasons with the 49ers.
... The Chiefs have once again re-signed running back C.J. Spiller. This marks the fourth time the Chiefs have signed Spiller in the past year. Spiller has not been on the Chiefs’ roster for a regular-season game this year.