Tuesday, October 12, 2010
AFC South Week 5 decisive moment
By Paul Kuharsky
Following a 15-yard celebration penalty after a Cowboys touchdown had knotted the score at 27-27, the Titans' Marc Mariani lined up well forward of his usual spot to field the impending kickoff.
Looking into the sun, he fielded the ball at the Tennessee 16-yard line and bolted through the Cowboys' kick coverage unit.
When he got to the right sideline, he bought some extra yards with a nice stiff-arm of kicker David Buehler and didn’t go down until he’d gained 73 yards and put the Titans at the Dallas 11.
A face-mask penalty on Buehler put the Titans at the 5, and Tennessee moved ahead for good three plays later on a Chris Johnson touchdown run with 3:28 remaining in the game.
Mariani showed good speed as he cut diagonally across the field. The play was blocked up in a way that created a nice lane. Craig Stevens had a key block early that kept Kevin Ogletree from getting involved.
A week earlier, Mariani made a big mistake in the Denver game that killed a chance for the Titans to drive at the end. But he has been pretty solid and effective in a season in which coach Jeff Fisher absolutely had to find a reliable return man.
At Cowboys Stadium, his return late in a back-and-forth game was critical.