NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns, and the Tennessee Titans held on to beat the Cleveland Browns 28-26 Sunday for their second straight victory – the first time they’ve won consecutive games since the end of the 2013 season.
The Titans (3-3) matched their win total for all of last season when they went 3-13 and wound up with the No. 1 draft pick overall. They also beat a team other than Jacksonville on their own field for the first time since the 2013 season finale and improved to 3-16 in Nashville.
Cleveland (0-6) now is mired in its worst start since 1999 when the Browns lost their first seven as an expansion franchise.
Not that the Titans care after losing to the Browns each of the past two seasons, especially with the Browns nearly pulling off another thrilling comeback. They made NFL history here in 2014 rallying from 25 points down to win.
This time, they trailed 28-13 when Cody Kessler hit Terrelle Pryor Sr. for a 5-yard TD with 2:07 left, but his pass on the 2-point conversion failed. The Browns recovered the onside kick, and Duke Johnson Jr. scored.
The Browns kicked another onside kick, yet Andre Johnson recovered the ball for Tennessee.
The Titans opened the game with a 75-yard drive capped by an 11-yard TD pass from Mariota to Rishard Matthews . That was their first opening TD drive since the season opener of 2015. A big key was Mariota who showed just how fast he is on the Titans’ first play from scrimmage as he kept the ball and went 41 yards up the Browns’ sideline.
LONGEST TD PASS OF SEASON
Tennessee’s longest touchdown pass of the season was a 30-yarder in Week 2 as the Titans rallied to beat Detroit 16-15. Mariota topped that with a 48-yard pass to Kendall Wright in the second quarter. Wright stretched out and dove for the ball, landing around the 5 and sliding near the 2 before getting up and into the end zone as he was hit. Wright finished with eight catches for 133 yards.
Kessler, knocked out of last week’s game with an injured chest, was sacked six times by Tennessee. He threw for a career-high 336 yards and also had two TD passes, both to Pryor.
POYER TO HOSPITAL
Browns defensive back Jordan Poyer was taken to a Nashville hospital for evaluation after a being crushed on a block when chasing down Titans returner Marc Mariani when Antonio Andrews hit him, knocking Poyer to the ground with 6:33 left in the second quarter. Andrews was flagged and penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on the blindside hit.
The hit left Poyer bent over on the grass for a few minutes before he was able to walk to the Browns sideline. He was evaluated, then put on a cart and taken to the locker room. He then was taken to the hospital to be further evaluated for both a concussion and his abdomen.