JOE BIDDLE: Mariota’s season ends

(Courtesy: Daishawn Hayes)

Anything that could go wrong for the Titans did.

It was a trap game from the kickoff.

Not only did the Titans suffer through an embarrassing 38-17 loss to the 3-12 Jaguars, they lost the leader of their offense.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota was carted off the field with 32 seconds left in the third quarter. He had been sacked from behind and his right leg twisted.

“Marcus has a fractured fibula. Obviously he’s out,’’ Titans Coach Mike Mularkey said after the game.

The Titans team that ignited visions of a playoff spot just six days ago, went up in smoke against a Jacksonville team that fired its coach after last Sunday’s 12th loss.

But Saturday would be a day where the Titans did not look nor play like the team that had won eight games, the last three in a row.

Mariota went down and out of the game with 32 seconds left in the third quarter. His team trailed 25-10 as Mariota was carted off with an air cast on his ankle. He will sit out the regular season finale against the Texans at Nissan Stadium.

“We did not play with the energy we normally play with,’’ Mularkey said, “for whatever reason that is.’’

What had shaped up as an unbelievable comeback season for the Titans came crashing down.

The Texans can clinch the AFC South title tonight if they beat the Bengals.

A Jaguars team that bumbled and stumbled during a nightmarish season looked nothing like that team.

“At the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen,’’ said Titans backup quarterback and Mariota’s replacement Matt Cassel. “Obviously we’ll need some things to fall into place.’’

On Saturday it all fell into place for the Jaguars. Under the coaching change that elevated offensive coordinator Doug Marrone to the team’s interim head coach with an impressive on-the-job interview, he could remain as the team’s head coach. Veteran NFL head coach Tom Coughlin has expressed interest in the job he once held.

Marrone is married to one of former MTSU Coach Boots Donnelly’s daughters and has earned the right to lead the Jaguars. Who knows which one owner Shad Kahn will choose.

It was not a fluke that the Jaguars pulled the upset. They enter the final regular season game with a 3-12 record.

They scored on their first possession and never tapped the brakes. It was 19-7 at halftime and the Titans were listless. The Titans trailed in first half possession time, having the ball 10:38 with the Jags almost doubling it at 19:22.

The Jaguars posted 16 first downs, limiting the Titans total to eight in the first half. The Jags rolled up 263 yards to 97. With quarterback Blake Bartles playing like Patriots star Tom Brady, the Titans defense wilted.

The final score told just how bad it was.

Mularkey gathered his team this week. He asked the players to write down which adjective fit the team’s personality, it was “resilient.’’

We shall see just how resilient they are as they tackle the Texans next week at Nissan Stadium.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at