The Titans began a new era last week with a dramatic overtime victory at New Orleans. In the first game under interim head coach Mike Mularkey, Marcus Mariota’s five-yard touchdown pass in overtime to tight end Anthony Fasano gave them a 34-28 win.
Mariota returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to the knee injury he suffered on Oct. 18 against the Miami Dolphins. In his sixth career start, he was 28-of-39 passing for 371 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 135.7. His 371 passing yards broke his own franchise rookie record, and he joined Daunte Culpepper as the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 350 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime.
Mariota set the franchise rookie record with his 13th touchdown pass of the season, and he became the only rookie in NFL history to record two games with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Mularkey was promoted to the post from his former title of assistant head coach/tight ends on Nov. 3, at the same time former head coach Ken Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties by Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.
He became the second coach in franchise history to take over as head coach during a season and win his debut, joining Wally Lemm (1961). Mularkey joined the Titans in 2014. The former NFL tight end has spent a total of three seasons as a head coach, first with the Buffalo Bills from 2004–2005 and then with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012. He also served as an offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2001–2003), Miami Dolphins (2006) and Atlanta Falcons (2008–2011).
PANTHERS AMONG THREE REMAINING UNBEATEN TEAMS- The Panthers visit Tennessee as the sole leaders of the NFC South and owners of one of the league’s three undefeated records. The New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals also are 8-0.
Last week in Charlotte, the Panthers used three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown by quarterback Cam Newton to beat the Packers 37-29. Newton was 15-of-30 for 297 yards passing and added 57 rushing yards.
Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy four years before Mariota did, is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. Through eight games, the former Auburn Tiger has passed for 1,820 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed for 343 yards and five touchdowns.
Under fifth-year head coach Ron Rivera, the well-balanced Panthers rank first in rushing offense (142.3 yards per game), fourth in points per game (28.5) and second in opponents’ yards per play (4.8).
SALUTE TO SERVICE- This week marks the Titans’ annual Salute to Service game to honor and support veterans, active-duty servicemen and women and their families. The Titans and Panthers will wear camouflaged-themed apparel including hats, hoodies, gloves and captains patches, in addition to camouflaged-branded Gatorade towels and Bose headsets on the sidelines. All player helmets will feature a seal decal that represents a branch of the military. Salute to Service-themed merchandise and game-used items are sold on NFL Auction, with 100% of the proceeds going to the NFL’s military non-profit partners. The Titans will honor servicemen and women in a ceremony at halftime.
FOOD DRIVE FOR SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK- Before fans enter Nissan Stadium, they are encouraged to participate in the annual food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank by dropping off non-perishable items at one of several collection sites near the stadium entrances. Among the most-needed items are peanut butter, canned chicken or tuna, canned fruit & vegetables, soups, stews, pasta and cereal.
TITANS-PANTHERS SERIES AT A GLANCE
Overall series (regular & postseason): Titans lead 3-1
Regular season series: Titans lead 3-1
Postseason series: None
Total points: Titans 93, Panthers 58
Current streak: Three wins by Titans
Titans at home vs. Panthers: 1-1
Titans on the road vs. Panthers: 2-0
Longest winning streak by Titans: 3 (2003-11)
Longest losing streak by Titans: 1 (1996)
Titans vs. Panthers at Nissan Stadium: 1-0
Last time at Nissan Stadium: Panthers 7 at TITANS 20 (11-4-07)
Titans vs. Panthers at Bank of America Stadium: 2-0
Last time at Bank of America Stadium: TITANS 30 at Panthers 3 (11-13-11)
First time: PANTHERS 31 at Oilers 6 (11-24-96)
Mike Mularkey’s record vs. Panthers: 0-1
Ron Rivera’s record vs. Titans: 0-1
Mike Mularkey’s record vs. Ron Rivera: 0-0
A TITANS VICTORY WOULD
Improve the Titans’ all-time record against the Panthers to 4-1.
Give the Titans a 12-4 record against the NFC South since 2002 realignment.
Improve Marcus Mariota’s starting record to 3-4.
Improve Mike Mularkey’s career record as a head coach to 17-32.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
TE Anthony Fasano (2,991 career receiving yards) needs nine receiving yards to reach 3,000 for his career.
S Michael Griffin needs one interception to tie Mike Reinfeldt (26 career interceptions) for seventh place on the franchise’s all-time interceptions list.
QB Marcus Mariota needs four touchdown passes to become the third player in franchise history to pass for four touchdowns at least three times in a season, joining George Blanda (1960, 1961) and Warren Moon (1990).
QB Marcus Mariota could record his third 300-yard passing game of his career.
Heisman winner Marcus Mariota meets up with a Heisman winner (Cam Newton) on the opposite sideline for the fourth time this season, with the Titans having already faced Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel and Mark Ingram.
OLB Brian Orakpo can record at least one sack for the third consecutive game.
TE Delanie Walker (42 receptions in 2015) needs eight receptions to become the ninth player in franchise history with three or more consecutive seasons of at least 50 receptions.
WR Kendall Wright (243 career receptions for 2,763 yards) needs nine receptions to pass Bo Scaife (251) for 13th place on the team’s all-time receptions list and needs 56 yards to pass Alvin Reed (2,818) for 15th place on the team’s all-time receiving yards list.
Referee: Walt Anderson
Umpire: Butch Hannah
Head Linesman: Steve Stelljes
Line Judge: Byron Boston
Field Judge: Eugene Hall
Side Judge: Laird Hayes
Back Judge: Todd Prukop
Replay Official: Billy Smith
FOX Nashville Affiliate: WZTV FOX 17
DirecTV Sunday Ticket: Ch. 711
Play-by-Play: Thom Brennaman
Analysts: Charles Davis, Tony Siragusa
Titans Radio Network Flagship: WGFX 104.5 FM-The Zone
Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel TBA
Play-by-Play: Mike Keith
Analyst: Frank Wycheck
Gameday Host: Rhett Bryan
Sideline Reporter: Jonathan Hutton
Play-by-Play: Adam Amin
Analyst: John Robinson
Scheduled Gameday Promotions (subject to change)
Charitable Drive: Second Harvest Food Drive
12th Titan Sword of Honor: Antonio Andrews’ father Olan Andrews II, who serves in the U.S. Army
Fans Will Receive: Titan Up Rally Towel
Halftime: Salute to Service
National Anthem: RaeLynn