Mariota to Walker TD highlights presason loss to Patriots

Mariota to Walker TD highlights presason loss to Patriots

By the time New England Patriots used a 23-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from rookie Jarrett Stidham to Damoun Patterson to rally for a 22-17 preseason victory over the Tennessee Titans, most of the excitement of the game had long since been filed away.
But perhaps the most important thing the Titans gleaned from Saturday night’s action was a first-quarter drive where their most important connection in the passing game was re-established.
Marcus Mariota, who struggled through injuries last season, found Delanie Walker for an 11-yard touchdown pass that capped an 87-yard Titans drive that resulted in an early 8-0 lead.
The drive was not only significant from the perspective that Mariota looked sharp, going 6 of 9 on the night for 63 yards and the score, but also from the standpoint that his favorite and most reliable receiver in Walker was back and productive.
Walker, who missed virtually the entire 2018 season after suffering a broken ankle in the season opener last year in Miami, was back in action for the first time in a game situation Saturday night.
“I never doubted it. Coaches gave me enough time to recover, and when I did practice, I went 100 percent. It felt good. I knew coming into the game, I was going to be a little juiced up,” said Walker who helped start the drive with a 15-yard catch on the second play of the march. “Every time I saw the Titans play, I just visualized me doing it over and over and over. The coaches were probably wondering, me just sitting here in a daze, I was visualizing catching that touchdown pass, and it happened.”
Mariota was happy to have Walker back on the field as well.
“it’s nice seeing 82 out there. It’s a privilege to play with someone like that,” Mariota said.
After the touchdown, the Titans decided to go for two and called a pass play, but Mariota felt pressure in the pocket and scrambled to his left. As he approached the end zone, Mariota went head over heels and came down across the line – giving his teammates, coaches and fans a moment of anxiety.
“He’s a competitor. I know he’s gonna give it all he’s got, but after he got in, I went up to him, and I was like, ‘Bruh … be careful,’” Walker said to his quarterback.
Mariota said several teammates told him to be careful. After all, Mariota’s first four seasons have been pockmarked with crucial injuries that have cost him time and affected his play.
“I was getting more grief about it from my teammates, but honestly, I was just trying to make a play. It was instinctive, to be honest with you,” he said.
“It scored me a little bit. All I saw was his legs up in the air,” receiver Corey Davis said.
The Patriots, who did not play quarterback Tom Brady, evened the score with a touchdown on Brandon Bolden’s 1-yard run and two-point try of their own when Brian Hoyer connected with Jakobi Meyers.
But the Titans offense answered back with backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill directing a second-quarter drive that Jeremy McNichols finished off, taking a dumpoff in the flat 15 yards to the end zone. McNichols arrived in the end zone via helicopter, as he dived over the defender and spun around, landing out of bounds after breaking the plane of the end zone.
Tennessee added a safety later as Sharif Finch was about to sack Stidham, but tight end Lance Kendricks had Finch in a choke hold that drew a penalty in the end zone and upped the Titans lead to 17-8.
In the second half, the Patriots scored two touchdowns to take the preseason win, as the Titans’ only scoring chance went for naught when Austin Barnard missed on a 41-yard field goal try.
The Titans have officially broken camp, and play their next preseason game Sunday night at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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