CHICAGO (AP) — Marcus Mariota is piling up some impressive numbers while he eyes the AFC South title for the Tennessee Titans.
Mariota directed Tennessee to a 27-21 victory against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, bolstering the Titans’ chances of making the playoffs. Tennessee trails Houston by a half-game for the top spot in the division after the Texans lost at home against San Diego.
“That’s all you want,” Mariota said. “You want an opportunity this time of the year to get a chance to (win) a division title and maybe make a run at the playoffs. That’s all you can really ask for.”
The Titans (6-6) are off next weekend and then host the Denver Broncos on Dec. 11. The Texans (6-5) begin December with road games against Green Bay and Indianapolis.
When Tennessee returns from its bye week, Mariota will be looking to build on his strong second season. He has thrown for multiple touchdowns in eight straight games. He is the third player in franchise history with 25 touchdown passes in a season.
“He’s doing a great job at looking for everybody, getting everybody the ball,” receiver Rishard Matthews said. “I’m just happy when the ball comes my way that I can make plays.”
Matthews had a diving 29-yard reception in the back of the end zone with 1:15 left in the second quarter, helping Tennessee to a 21-7 lead at the break against the Bears (2-9). Delanie Walker also had a 4-yard TD catch in the second quarter.
Mariota was 15 for 23 for 226 yards. Derrick Henry had eight carries for 60 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run.
Here are some things to know about the Titans and Bears:
BARKLEY’S COMEBACK: Chicago quarterback Matt Barkley showed he can lead a comeback in his first NFL start. But he also had some issues.
With Jay Cutler shelved by a right shoulder injury, Barkley completed 28 of 54 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. But he threw a first-half interception and another early in the third quarter.
The Bears had a first down at the Tennessee 7 in the final minute when Josh Bellamy dropped a pass in the end zone. Barkley’s next three attempts fell incomplete, preserving the win for Tennessee.
Barkley credited the comeback to going no-huddle.
“Routes, they were all crisp,” he said. “I was seeing everything easier. Our guys, they were getting open.”
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The dropped pass in the end zone by Bellamy wasn’t the only one by the Bears.
Marquess Wilson also dropped one and Deonte Thompson had a possible game-winner fall out of his hands while diving on the final Bears play.
All the Bears receivers are backups, with Kevin White injured and Alshon Jeffery suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“It was a tough day for our group,” Thompson said. “But we’re just going to keep battling and keep fighting and coming every day with our ‘A’ game.”
INJURY STACK GROWS: With the Bears already missing Jerrell Freeman due to a PED suspension, the linebacker corps took another hit when starting inside linebacker Danny Trevathan went out on the Titans’ next-to-last possession with a knee injury.
Coach John Fox said it “appears to be serious, but we do not have all the tests run to give you a real solid prognosis to this point.”
John Timu replaced Trevathan.
DEFENSIVE SHIFT: The Titans stopped the Bears three times in the red zone. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard and safety Da’Norris Searcy produced interceptions.
“You can bend, but don’t break,” Woodyard said. “Just because they get in the red zone doesn’t mean they have to score. And we got three red-zone stops and that’s the tale of the tape.”