Mariota throws 3 first-half TD passes, Titans drop Falcons


ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 29: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans heads off the field following the Tennessee Titans win over the Atlanta Falcons 24- 10 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) – Marcus Mariota threw three first-half touchdown passes, two to A.J. Brown, and the Tennessee Titans defense had three fourth-down stops to beat the Atlanta Falcons 24-10 on Sunday.

Tennessee (2-2) used Mariota’s big first half and strong defense to snap a two-game losing streak. Derrick Henry, who ran for 100 yards, helped the Titans dominate the clock and hold the Falcons to only a field goal in the second half.

Ito Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter pulled the Falcons (1-3) even at 7-7. Tennessee outscored Atlanta 17-0 the remainder of the half, and the Falcons heard boos as they left the field.

Matt Ryan passed for 397 yards, but the Falcons were stopped on three fourth-down plays. Julio Jones had only four catches for 52 yards.

Devonta Freeman, who was held to 28 yards on 12 carries, was stopped by Jurrell Casey on a fourth-and-1 run in the second quarter. Ryan was sacked on two fourth-down plays in the second half.

Mariota has not thrown an interception this season, but he faced growing criticism after managing only one touchdown pass in two straight losses.

Mariota enjoyed a resurgence against the Falcons. He connected with Brown for a 55-yard touchdown pass on Tennessee’s second possession. Brown beat Desmond Trufant and then outran Kemal Ishmael and Deion Jones.

Brown beat Trufant again for an 11-yard scoring catch in the first quarter. Mariota’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis late in the half followed the fourth-and-1 stop by Casey on Freeman’s run.

The Falcons continued their trend of facing big early deficits in their losses. Atlanta, which trailed the Titans 24-7 at halftime, has been outscored 65-10 in the first half of its three losses.

Atlanta’s Matt Bryant missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt late in the first half when the kick hit the left upright. Bryant was good from 42 yards to cap the Falcons’ opening drive of the second half.

Tennessee returns home next Sunday to host the Buffalo Bills. The Titans lead the series 28-18, but Buffalo has won the past two, including a 13-12 home win in 2018.

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