Mariota returns; Jets top Titans 7-3 in preseason opener
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Marcus Mariota got out on the field, ran a handful of plays and then watched the rest of the game from the sideline.
It was a nice, simple night for the franchise quarterback.
Mariota played in his first game since breaking his right leg late last season, easily the most important development for the Tennessee Titans in their 7-3 loss to the New York Jets on Saturday in the exhibition opener for each team.
”I enjoyed the moment,” he said. ”You kind of create those moments when you’re going through the rehab process. You keep telling yourself `This is what you’re working for’ and that’s the way I approached it.”
Mariota, who had 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2016 before his injury on Dec. 24, played two series in the first quarter.
”The recovery process was a long one,” Mariota said. ”To be able to be out there today with the guys, I enjoyed it.”
On his first attempt, he scrambled to his right and completed a 15-yard pass to Rishard Matthews . He finished 2 of 3 for 15 yards.
”Instincts kind of took over,” he said. ”It felt good to get out of the pocket and make a play.”
Unlike the Titans, the Jets’ quarterback situation is more muddled. Well-traveled veteran Josh McCown got the start for New York. He was 3 of 4 for 72 yards and a touchdown in his one series, which was enough for the win because the Jets defense had eight sacks and was dominant throughout.
Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick in 2016, took over for McCown and played until late in the third quarter. Hackenberg was 18 of 25 for 127 yards.
”He has some things to build off,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said of Hackenberg. ”He has some positives that we can look at and he can build from. He’s got some negatives that we’ve got to correct. That’s to be expected in the first game.”
Bryce Petty, a fourth-round pick in 2015, finished up and was 2 of 6 for 16 yards.
Robby Anderson, an undrafted free agent who was trying to make the team a year ago, is the Jets’ No. 1 receiver after Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season to a neck injury. He had three receptions for 71 yards.
Anderson made a nice 53-yard catch on the opening drive, which ended with McCown’s 4-yard TD pass Charone Peake .
”It felt great to get in there with the guys,” McCown said. ”The O-line was excellent. Robby made a heckuva play. And we finished it off. Peake made a great catch.”
Titans rookie receiver Taywan Taylor made a leaping a 42-yard catch in the third quarter. The drive ended with Ryan Succop’s 36-yard field goal.
Titans running back Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, had eight carries for 29 yards.
Alex Tanney replaced Mariota and was sacked by linebacker Julian Stanford on his first play and briefly left the game. He returned for the next series. Tanney was 10 of 26 for 128 yards with an interception and lost a fumble on a sack.
Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker had no catches in his return to the Meadowlands. Decker was signed by the Titans in June after he was cut by the Jets in their salary purge.
N.Y. SACK EXCHANGE
Devon Still, Anthony Johnson, Josh Martin, Jordan Jenkins, Bruce Carter, Leonard Williams, Patrick Gamble and Stanford had sacks for the Jets. Martin also had a fumble recovery.
GETTING A LEG UP
Chandler Catanzaro and Ross Martin are competing for the Jets’ kicking job. Catanzaro made a PAT, but was wide left on a 55-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.
”Well, that was not the way we wanted to start the preseason, obviously,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. ”But there were some good things defensively. Not offensively, even though we still had opportunities to win the game at the end.”
OUT OF THE LINEUP
Titans: Running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring), wide receivers Corey Davis (hamstring) and Mekale McKay, cornerback Demontre Hurst, defensive lineman Karl Klug (ankle) all sat out.
Jets: Running backs Matt Forte (hamstring), Bilal Powell (neck) and linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin did not play.
Titans: Host Carolina on Saturday.
Jets: At Detroit on Saturday.
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