NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Vrabel took a timeout late in overtime with the Tennessee Titans facing their third fourth down, then the first-year coach pulled kicker Ryan Succop off the field.
Marcus Mariota, Corey Davis and the rest of the Titans rewarded Vrabel for his big show of confidence.
Mariota hit Davis with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Titans beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-23 on Sunday for their best start since 2013.
“He believes in us, believes we can go get that first down and go win the game,” Mariota said of Vrabel letting the offense go for a third fourth down on the final drive. “When you have a head coach that believes in you, man that means the world.”
Succop was lining up for a 50-yard attempt when Vrabel took the timeout. Only 17 seconds remained with the Titans facing third-and-goal when Mariota finally ended the game after 3 hours, 36 minutes.
“I got my heart pills coming,” Vrabel joked. “I got a prescription, a big bottle. But I’m just proud of them being able to execute in the most critical of situations.”
The Titans trailed by 14 in the third quarter before rallying for the lead. They also trailed 23-20 in overtime before coming back again behind Mariota, who in his first start since being knocked out of the season opener with an injured elbow threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns while also running for a score.
On the game-winning drive, the Titans converted three fourth downs, one by penalty. Mariota hit Taywan Taylor with a 19-yarder on fourth-and-15, and Mariota found a wide-open Dion Lewis on fourth-and-2 for a 17-yard gain. Mariota lofted the ball a bit knowing Davis would have room in the end zone for his first TD catch in the regular season.
“I got tackled by a bunch of teammates, but it felt good,” said Davis, who finished with 161 yards receiving.
The Titans (3-1) also came up with four sacks. Rookie Harold Landry got his first and also stripped Carson Wentz of the ball within the first minute of the fourth quarter, setting up the second of Succop’s two field goals.
The Eagles (2-2) had their chances to win both at the end of regulation and in overtime but were forced to settle for a pair of field goals by Jake Elliott.
“This hurts,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “This stings. Losses like this sting, and it’s something we use as fuel for our emotion moving forward.”
Philadelphia had three chances inside the Tennessee 20 to win in regulation after DeAndre Carter returned a punt 42 yards to the Titans 39 with 1:41 left, but Wentz threw incomplete on first and third down. Elliott kicked a 30-yarder to force overtime.
In the extra period, the Eagles had first-and-10 at the Tennessee 17 but had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Elliott for the lead.
The Eagles led 10-3 at halftime and 17-3 after a masterful drive that ate up more than 7 minutes of the third quarter before Wentz hit receiver Alshon Jeffery with a 16-yard TD .
Mariota finally got the Titans’ offense going after just two offensive touchdowns through the first three games. He capped a 75-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run to pull Tennessee within 17-10 late in the third, and he hit Tajae Sharpe with an 11-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles outgained Tennessee 432-397 with Wentz throwing for 348 yards. Jeffery finished with 105 yards receiving and a TD, and Zach Ertz had 10 catches for 112 yards.
WHY PLAY FOR A TIE?
“I don’t know the point of having a tie in the NFL,” Titans cornerback Logan Ryan said. “I don’t know what it really does for the standings. I don’t know who feels good about it. It probably feels like a loss. We were comfortable with the decision no matter how it went down. That puts a lot of trust in your quarterback and your offense right there.”
Mariota had his sixth game-winning drive since the start of the 2017 season, not counting his playoff comeback in January. Mariota had been tied with Case Keenum coming into Sunday with five in that span. Mariota now has 11 such drives in his career for the Titans.
Eagles: Right guard Brandon Brooks limped to the sideline late in the fourth quarter.
Titans: Linebacker Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee’s leading tackler, hurt his shoulder in the first quarter and did not return. Safety Kenny Vaccaro went to the locker room with trainers late in the first half with an injured right elbow and watched the second half with his arm in a sling on the sideline.
Eagles: Host Minnesota.
Titans: Visit Buffalo.
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