Rookie quarterback Mariota stars for Titans

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 14, 2015 1:02 AM

(The Sports Xchange) - Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes in the first half, looking like a pro in his NFL debut as the Tennessee Titans had an easy opener, throttling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston 42-14 at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

The game was eagerly anticipated as the first-ever meeting of quarterbacks drafted first and second overall making their NFL debuts, but it wasn't ever a close contest. Mariota got most of the fourth quarter off, pulled for backup Zach Mettenberger.

The Titans led 14-0 in the first four minutes, with Mariota throwing a 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kendall Wright. Winston, on his first career throw, was intercepted by Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh and it was returned 26 yards for a touchdown.

Mariota marched the Titans 63 yards on their next drive, hitting running back Bishop Sankey for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 lead, just 8:11 into the game.

Mariota finished 13-for-16 for 209 yards and four touchdowns with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the day.

Mariota's four touchdown passes broke a 55-year-old Titans record for a rookie in his first start.

"We worked hard all week and to be able to be successful and execute was good for us," Mariota said after the game.

"The entire offense played well. I'm very fortunate to be a part of the group that I am."

Winston struggled on third downs. The Bucs went 1-for-6 in the first half and he had both his interceptions on third-down plays. The Bucs had just 134 yards of total offense after three quarters, and Winston finished 16-for-33 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Bucs had allowed 40-plus points in a home game just one other time in 17-plus seasons at Raymond James Stadium -- a 48-17 loss to the Ravens last season. The franchise record for points allowed was 49, to the Vikings in 1988.

(Editing by Julian Linden)