NFL Wire News

3 things we learned about the Titans


The Sports Xchange

CLEVELAND – Polarizing Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel found a way to silence his critics, if for only one game.

Travis Benjamin scored three touchdowns, two on passes from Manziel, and the defense kept quarterback Marcus Mariota under wraps in the second half Sunday to lead the Cleveland Browns past the Tennessee Titans, 28-14.

Benjamin, a wide receiver, scored on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Manziel on the Browns’ second offensive play and added a touchdown on a 78-yard punt return with 53 seconds left in the second quarter to give the Browns (1-1) a 21-0 lead halftime lead. Benjamin racked up 214 all-purpose yards in the first half.

In between the Benjamin touchdowns, Isaiah Crowell scored on an 11-yard run.

After the Titans (1-1) rallied with two second-half touchdowns, Manziel rolled left on third-and-6 at midfield to hook up with Benjamin for a 50-yard touchdown pass with 2:52 remaining.

“Every time Johnny scrambles, he’s looking to throw first,” Benjamin said. “Once I put my hand up and he saw me, I saw him cock and I just ran under it.”

The Browns (1-1) looked like a different team than the one that lost, 31-10, to the New York Jets in the season opener. The same can be said of the Titans, who dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (42-14) in Mariota’s NFL debut.

What we learned about the Titans

1. Quarterback Marcus Mariota still has some things to learn about playing quarterback in the NFL. After posting a perfect passer rating in his first game he had difficulty coping with the Browns intricate defense. He threw two touchdown passes in the second half after being shut out in the first half but he was also sacked four times in the second half and seven times in all. He fumbled three times and lost the ball twice.

2. The Titans have to play with more discipline the next 14 games otherwise it is going to be a long season in Nashville. The Titans were penalized eight times for 80 yards in the first half while the Browns were building a 21-0 lead. They were much better in the second half with only one 15-yard penalty but by then the damage was done.

3. Mariota will not have to win games by himself. The Titans got back into the game in the second half by being patient and sticking to a balanced attack. They finished the game with 166 yards rushing on 33 carries. The strategy of mixing the run and pass cut the Browns lead to 21-14 with 6:42 left. The Titans had 99 yards rushing at halftime.


–QB Marcus Mariota suffered an ankle injury but the Titans rookie did not miss a play. Afterward he said the ankle felt fine. He lost his helmet on a sack by John Hughes in the first half but dusted himself off and did not miss a play. He completed 21 of 37 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

–RB Dexter McCluster led the Titans with 98 yards on 10 carries. He broke a long run of 44 yards in the first half and showed a burst when he got past the first wave of tacklers. He added four catches for 26 yards.

–TE Anthony Fasano led the Titans with five catches for 84 yards. He scored their first touchdown pass on a 19-yard pass from Mariota. Titans starting tight end Delaine Walker was inactive with a hand injury but the Titans did not miss him.

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