The way the New England Patriots played Saturday, it may not have mattered who played quarterback for Tennessee.
New England’s surging defense set a team playoff record with eight sacks.
They got to Marcus Mariota EIGHT times.
— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2018
And of course, Tom Brady was Tom Brady.
— Patriots Nation (@PatsNationCP) January 14, 2018
No, the Titans didn’t have much of a chance, and with Marcus Mariota playing at less than 100 percent, they may not have had any chance at all.
After the game, Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey revealed that his quarterback suffered a strained quadricep on a run in the first quarter.
“It had an impact, obviously,” Mularkey said. “We had to get out of some of our scheme we had with him, some of our zone scheme.”
Going into the game, the Titans knew the only way for David to slay Goliath was to have Mariota’s athleticism keep things close.
While he managed to rush for 37 yards, Mariota’s mobility was limited.
“They did a good job with the line game,” Mularkey said of the New England defense. “Marcus was hampered. Tough to get away.”
To his credit, the third-year quarterback stayed in the game. But after a 95-yard touchdown drive late in the first quarter, Tennessee never came close to mounting a threat.
Mariota downplayed his injury, saying “everybody plays with something.”
The Titans didn’t qualify for the postseason until their last game, then came back from an 18-point deficit last week in Kansas City. But those accomplishments were buried Saturday night for Mariota, who said he was “embarrassed.”
“You don’t play to come and lose in the divisional playoff,” Mariota said. “You play to go win the whole thing.”
With a young team, the Titans should remain a contender next season. But no matter what, they’ll always wonder what might have been had their quarterback been healthy.
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