Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan says he kind of blacked out.
Everyone who stayed on the Tennessee sideline went crazy Ramon Humber Jersey , celebrating.
As a group of teammates mobbed him , quarterback Marcus Mariota simply stood and looked back at them knowing he had helped the Titans to their first playoff victory in 14 years in his postseason debut.
The big play? Not his first touchdown pass, which he conveniently caught after it was batted back to him.
Or the big first downs he delivered with his legs.
No, this time Mariota delivered by putting his right shoulder into a linebacker, clearing space for Derrick Henry to run for the clinching first down to finish running out the clock on their rally from 18 points down to beat Kansas City 22-21 .
”You don’t really see quarterbacks blocking and doing such a selfless play like that,” Morgan said Tuesday.
The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner may be polite and as well-mannered as any parent’s dream. He’s also a winner, and Tennessee’s third-year quarterback finally is healthy and leading the Titans to victories that matter.
He’s also showing off his versatility from catching the first TD pass he ever threw in a postseason game to running and even blocking to lead the Titans to an AFC divisional game in New England against the defending champs.
Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan said Mariota has made big plays two weeks in a row to fire up the Titans, including a stiff-arm while running to a big first down to clinch Tennessee’s playoff berth in the regular-season finale.
”It’s pretty awesome, especially as mild-mannered as he is,” Lewan said. ”His competitive nature is bigger than anybody else’s in here, so I know he wants to win every single game, and we’re just here to help him do that.”
Mariota, 24, easily had his worst regular season yet in the NFL with more interceptions (15) than touchdown passes (13). But he ran for a career-high five touchdowns Jake Ryan Jersey , while playing through a hamstring injury that cost him one start in October.
Now Mariota gets his second chance at the Patriots and Tom Brady, whose 25 playoff victories not only are the most in the NFL, but more than Mariota has (21) since arriving in the league from Oregon.
Mariota’s first trip to Foxborough did not go well at all in his rookie season.
The Patriots sacked him three times, and Mariota completed just 3 of 6 passes before having his season ended with a sprained knee in a loss Dec. 20, 2015.
These Patriots (13-3) have won 11 of their past 12 games, and Brady led the NFL with 4,577 yards passing.
The Titans quarterback showed he’s as healthy as he’s been all season with a handful of highlight plays starting with the NFL’s first touchdown pass by a quarterback to himself when Darrelle Revis batted the ball back to Mariota who ran toward the pylon to cap a 91-yard drive to jumpstart the Titans’ comeback.
Mariota also threw the game-winning TD to Eric Decker with 6:06 left for his fifth game-winning drive this season and ninth of his career.
”This guy is a physically tough player,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said of Mariota. ”You definitely see that on film.”
Mariota ran eight times for 46 yards, twice on third down for first downs in the second half against the Chiefs.
And that block was the cap to a performance that let tight end Delanie Walker know his quarterback finally is healthy.
”When he wasn’t healthy, you wouldn’t see him run out of the pocket, juke people or anything like that,” Walker said.
”It just shows that he’s healthy. This is the Marcus that everyone knows. He’s been doing this in college, and now everyone just starting to see it because it’s prime-time, and we’re in the playoffs. At the end of the day Ryan Kelly Jersey , this is him.”
NOTES: RB DeMarco Murray (right knee) did not practice and remains day to day after missing the past two games. CB Logan Ryan (ankle) did not practice as a day of rest, while LG Quinton Spain (back) also was held out.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had to wait several weeks into the season to see just what they got with right-hander Joe Musgrove in an offseason trade with Houston.
It has been about a month since he came off the disabled list after a shoulder injury delayed his season debut, and Musgrove has proved fiercely competitive and fiercely loyal.
Musgrove is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA for Pittsburgh (35-35) going into his sixth start Sunday, against right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.40) and the Cincinnati Reds (25-45) in a series finale at PNC Park.
With a 6-2 victory Saturday, the Pirates won their third straight, climbed back to .500 and ensured themselves of winning a series after dropping eight in a row.
The Reds have lost two straight after a three-game winning streak.
Not only is Musgrove averaging more than six innings per start, with 23 strikeouts in 25 innings and a 1.12 WHIP, but also has played with an edge.
“He’s a tough guy,” Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said last month. “When he’s on the mound, he’s mean. He’s the kind of guy that you want to have on the mound all the time.”
In his most recent outing, a no-decision Monday in Arizona’s comeback 9-5 win, Musgrove was cruising with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning when he hit Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Owings in acknowledged retaliation.
An inning earlier, Diamondbacks right-hander Braden Shipley hit Pirates infielder Josh Harrison — who got plunked 23 times last year and spent time on the DL this season and last because of a broken hand after being hit by pitches — and Pittsburgh rookie Austin Meadows got knocked down by a pitch earlier.
“It’s nothing more than just protecting your teammates Jeremy Kerley Jersey ,” Musgrove said. “It’s baseball. That’s how the game is played. That’s how I was raised to play the game. You protect your teammates, especially when a guy gets hit high up and in.”
The Pirates appreciated Musgrove’s loyalty, despite the fact that his retaliatory move might have sparked Arizona’s winning rally.
“That wasn’t the turning point of the game in my eyes,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “You can’t control what other people are going to think.
“The importance of teammates taking a stand for one another, I think that is part of the game. Everybody can construct their own narrative afterward. But I know (Harrison) has been hit a ton, been hit a lot. … Just plunking our guys, whether it’s accidental or not, is just not OK.”
Harrison said “it felt good” to have his new teammate stand up for him.
Musgrove has never faced the Reds.
DeSclafani has made six career starts against Pittsburgh, going 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA, but not since Sept. 17, 2016.
DeSclafani missed all of 2017 because of an elbow injury and, like Musgrove, opened this season on the DL because of an oblique strain.
Last Sunday, in his second start this season Jordan Mills Jersey , DeSclafani picked up his first win since Sept. 28, 2016, 6-3 over St. Louis. He gave up two runs and 10 hits in five innings, with six strikeouts and two walks.
“I don’t think I was as good as I wanted to be,” DeSclafani said. “There’s definitely a lot of work from here on out. I was falling behind some guys and giving up too many hits.
“But it’s definitely something to build on.”
He has yet to get his setup pitch, his curveball, back to where it once was.
“Definitely still getting a feel for it. I only threw a few of them,” he said. “It’s definitely got to be incorporated. I need some kind of equalizer to (go along with) my fastball and slider. Once that comes around, it should make things a little bit easier.”
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