FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quarterback Marcus Mariota’s mobility was limited for much of the Tennessee Titans’ 35-14 playoff loss to the New England Patriots on Saturday because of a strained quad.
Mariota suffered the injury on a first-quarter run, according to Titans coach Mike Mularkey.
The Patriots had their way with the Titans on Saturday, showing an improving Tennessee squad how far it needs to go to be a true AFC contender.
Tom Brady and the top-seeded Patriots blasted out of an early hole and rolled past Tennessee into their seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game.
“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.”
Mularkey said Mariota’s leg prevented him from scrambling away from the New England rush. The Patriots sacked him four times in the third quarter — including back-to-back plays that left Tennessee with a third-and-31 from their own 2 — and three more in the fourth.
“They did a good job with the line game,” Mularkey said. “Marcus was hampered. Tough to get away.”
Mariota didn’t use his injury as an excuse, saying after the game that “everybody plays with something.” He was visibly upset, however, and 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.”
Mariota finished 22-of-37 for 254 yards and two touchdowns and also had four rushes for 37 yards.
In his third NFL season, he battled injuries to a hamstring, knee and shoulder, after returning from the broken leg he suffered late in the 2016 season.
He can take solace in knowing that in 2018 he can focus on improvement rather than rehab for the first time since his rookie season.
“Hopefully people use this as motivation,” Mariota said. “Yeah, it’s nice to get in the playoffs, but you don’t play just to get in.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.