Mike Mularkey on Marcus Mariota: 'Whatever it takes to make this thing go'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota suffered hamstring and knee injuries during the course of the season and may still have issues resulting from last year’s broken fibula.

It’s affected both the way the Titans call run plays for him and the scrambling he’s done.

Whether injuries are bothering him or not, he set them aside Sunday and found his way to 10 carries for 60 yards, mostly on scrambles. His two excellent third-down conversions late helped the Titans hold on to a playoff-clinching 15-10 win over Jacksonville.MariotaStiffJags

“We’re at that point right now where every man needs to do whatever he can, whatever it takes to make this thing go,” Mularkey said, responding to a question about measuring running Mariota versus protecting him as the Titans head into the postseason.

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In first high-volume game, Derrick Henry found no space to run

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The long-awaited volume-carry game for Derrick Henry arrived on Sunday against the Jaguars.

And it was a disaster.

Henry made one huge play for the Titans, taking a screen pass 66 yards for the game’s only offensive touchdown.

But against the NFL’s 21st-ranked run defense and against a team he had Week 2 success against (14 carries for 92 yards and a TD), he struggled badly.

Twenty-eight carries for 51 yards. That’s a 1.8-yard average.MariotaHenryHandoffJags 1

Rare were the instances where he had room. But that’s where a back has to take what he can get. Instead, Henry paused far too often in the backfield and got hit for losses.

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Pre-playoff verdict you may not like: 2017 Titans are a success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The reasonable ask for the 2017 Titans was a playoff berth.

For the Titans to go from 3-13 in 2015 to 9-7 but out of the playoffs in 2016 to 9-7 and in the playoffs in 2017 is undoubtedly progress.

No matter how you feel about the style and scheme of a team heading to Kansas City and the fifth seed in the AFC to take on the Chiefs on Saturday and no matter what the Titans do there, this season qualifies as a success.

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No matter how you feel about this version of the Titans, be happy for long-suffering players breaking through

IMG 5455NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The building currently known as Nissan Stadium had never before hosted a win-and-in regular-season finale.

The New Year's Eve playoff-qualifying victory was another ugly game for the Titans, 15-10 over the Jaguars.

But it got the job done.

And for several players who'be been in the league for a good while, it marks a great personal moment as well as a great team one.

My video report:

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Massive Marcus Mariota run helps propel Titans into playoffs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mistakes were mounting, including a big one he was in the middle of -- a fumbled handoff returned for a TD.

At their best this season, the Titans had shown resilience and ability to withstand and overcome.

Carrying a three-game losing streak and with monstrous stakes, it seemed a lot to ask, for this team to revert to form and find a way, again.

But with the Titans clinging to a 15-10 lead, the guy they fervently believe in, put them on his back and made the two plays they needed to survive.

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The result is the first playoff berth for the Titans since 2008, and a Saturday game in Kansas City, the first of the 2017 postseason.

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Right now, Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry may not fit each other

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While not producing enough points last week against the Rams, the Titans heavy use of no-huddle looked like a better fit.

Marcus Mariota is a more lively quarterback when he’s running the quicker offense that puts him more in control.MariotaEscapeBAL

But Derrick Henry, who will be the team’s lead running back with DeMarco Murray (knee) out for Sunday’s crucial game, is not a guy the Titans have leaned on in that style of offense.

At all.

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Pickers mailbag: Will people show up for Titans' big finale?

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If you're like me, I know the final regular-season mailbag of 2017 makes you exceptionally sentimental.

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Thanks to Pickers Vodka for sponsoring this post and all my broadcasts. You really should grab a bottle for you and take another with you to the New Year's Eve party you're attending. That's what I will be doing. Drink Responsibly.

Remember this from Nov. 6 as we await Sunday afternoon's kickoff for the Jaguars-Titans rematch.

On to the mail, where we'll start out with some questions from Facebook, where you should like my page if you have not already.

Drue Jolly What is the likely attendance on Sunday given the weather and recent performance?

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Titans can grab back the narrative about who they are with a win vs. Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota doesn’t have anything to prove Sunday against the Jaguars, Mike Mularkey said.

The broad point is, the Titans believe in him as their starter now and moving forward.

But in the context of this season, Mariota, the entire roster and coaching staff absolutely has something to prove.TitanManRAMS 1

A 9-7 record and a playoff berth is a whole different deal than 8-8 and packing up your locker.

It’s not just one game, because with three consecutive losses the Titans have made it THE game.

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