NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After being embarrassed by the Texans in Houston last Monday, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel said it was important to get out to an early lead and control the game against the struggling New York Jets.
That didn't happen, but it still worked out for the Titans and their AFC playoff hopes. New York jumped out to a 16-0 lead, but Marcus Mariota added to his impressive comeback résumé in a 26-22 victory.
Mariota's game-winning drive was the 11th of his four-year career. That's the fifth-most in the NFL since his rookie season in 2015, and his total of seven game-winning drives since the start of the 2017 season is tied for the most in the NFL.
"It's the guys around me. These guys find ways to make plays. I am just the guy that is distributing and allows the guys to do their thing," Mariota said.
One of the guys that "did their thing" was wide receiver Taywan Taylor, who had 104 yards on three receptions in the fourth quarter. He hadn't played since Tennessee's Week 9 win over Dallas.
Mariota hit Taylor on two completions, one gaining 44 yards and the other 55 yards. Both plays put the Titans in first-and-goal situations, but they couldn't score touchdowns on either drive.
However, Tennessee's offense overcame their red-zone failures on their final drive, when Mariota found Corey Davis for an 11-yard touchdown with 36 seconds remaining.
"No matter what, he's a winner," safety Kevin Byard said about Mariota. "It doesn't matter how ugly or pretty it looks. All he cares about is winning, and he's going to put his team in position to win. He's a great quarterback, and we love to have him on this team."
The fourth-quarter comeback would have never been possible if it wasn't for the play of the Titans' defense. They managed to allow only nine points in the first half despite being put in bad positions. The Jets' lone touchdown came when cornerback Trumaine Johnson returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown.
The Jets took over one drive at the Tennessee 18-yard line after a blocked punt. A 61-yard kickoff return by the Jets' Andre Roberts to open up the second half also put the Titans' defense in a hole. But they didn't break, and the Jets scored only six second-half points.
"They [the Titans defense] were put in some tough positions, but that's what you do. You play defense. The great defenses go out there and play defense wherever they have to. Our guys did a great job of getting the ball back. They came up with a huge stop to give us an opportunity to do something with the football and the offense did an amazing job," Vrabel said.
At 6-6, the Titans are still in the hunt for the final AFC wild-card spot. They'll be back in action in four days on when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
"It's something that I appreciate. When you're playing on Monday night and Thursday night, you're playing good football and getting more TV games. We have to take advantage of those and worry about us, not any of those other teams in the hunt," Byard said.
The win gives the Titans a 15 percent chance of making the playoffs. If it weren't for another game-winning drive orchestrated by Mariota, Tennessee's flickering chances would have been virtually doused.