VOL. 41 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 6, 2017
Mariota watches as QBs struggle; Miami beats Titans 16-10
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The best quarterback on either side Sunday was Marcos Mariota, and he spent the entire game on the sideline.
Fans jeered Jay Cutler repeatedly in his first home game with the Miami Dolphins, and they might have booed Matt Cassel in Nashville, too.
Both offenses were held under 190 yards as the Dolphins beat the Tennessee Titans, 16-10. Here are things to know about two last-place teams with quarterback issues:
With Mariota sidelined by a left hamstring injury suffered a week ago, Cassel made his 81st career start — but only his second in the past two years. He went 21 for 32 for 141 yards and was sacked six times. The Titans (2-3) went 2 for 13 on third down.
Cassel said he was told Friday he would start, although the Titans waited until shortly before kickoff to disclose the decision. Was Mariota close to being able to play?
"Not real close, not enough that you could put him in that situation out there with the crowd noise and move around as much as Matt had to," Mularkey said.
Mariota's status remains day to day, Mularkey said. The Titans next play at home Monday, Oct. 16 against AFC South rival Indianapolis.
Cutler's passer rating was even lower than Cassel's — and almost as bad as teammate MarQueis Gray, whose one pass was an incompletion from the wildcat.
Cutler went 12 for 26 for 92 yards, but at least four of his passes were dropped, and coach Adam Gase said his QB wasn't the problem. That's why he declined to turn to backup Matt Moore, described repeated crowd chants of "We want Moore."
"I'll make the decision about the quarterback," Gase said. "We're not going to take public polls."
The Dolphins (2-2) totaled 178 yards. They've scored three offensive touchdowns this season, and Cutler said much of the fault is his.
"I'll take a lot of it," he said. "That's the quarterback. Whenever you win you get a lot of praise. Whenever you lose you get a lot of blame. That's the nature of the position. ... There are a lot of things for us to clean up."
The Dolphins next play Sunday at Atlanta.
The Dolphins' defense was led by safety Reshad Jones, who scored a disputed touchdown on a 38-yard fumble return. That was Miami's only touchdown in the first 49 minutes.
"Nice that somebody could score points," Gase said drily.
Jones recovered another fumble to set up a field goal. He shared in a sack at the Titans 1-yard line , and nearly made an interception.
The defense held DeMarco Murray to 58 yards rushing. Andre Branch led the pass rush with two sacks, and rookie Charles Harris earned his first career sack .
"That's a good team: When the offense isn't playing well, the defense has to pick up the slack," Jones said.
Jones' touchdown came after Cassel lost his helmet and the ball on a jarring hit by Kiko Alonso. The ball squirted forward, and Jones scooped it up as other players stopped, thinking the play had ended with an incomplete pass.
"Our guys heard a whistle," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.
No player on either team kneeled on the sidelines during the national anthem. Dolphins Michael Thomas, Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas, who have knelt in protest in the past, waited in the tunnel during the song and ran onto the field after it ended.
"We were just trying to keep the team focused and not be a distraction," Michael Thomas said. "It was a team decision. ... The league heard us. They've heard the cry of the players."
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