It was the definition of an up-and-down day for Tennessee Titans rookie receiver/special teamer Marc Mariani. In the third quarter, the rookie registered his first career NFL score when he returned a Denver Broncos kick 98 yards for a touchdown. The return gave the Titans a 17-13 lead, moments after the Broncos had taken a 13-10 lead on a Matt Prater field goal.
On a day when it appeared Mariani could be the hero for the Titans, he ended up costing them a win late in the fourth quarter. After a back-and-forth game of trading field goals and coaches flipping off the refs, the Titans found themselves trailing 23-20 with less than two minutes left. There was plenty of time left for Tennessee to get into field goal range and send the game to overtime. Not to mention, Rob Bironas had already nailed a 50+ yard field goal earlier in the game.
The Titans never got a chance, as Mariani muffed a kickoff and the Broncos recovered the fumble. Denver went on to run out most of the clock before kicking another field goal to seal the victory.
We’ve really gotten a chance to see how special teams can affect the outcome of a game these past two weeks. Leon Washington almost single-handedly won the game for the Seahawks last week with his two kick returns for touchdowns. Mariani put the Titans in position to win and lose a game in the same half.