ARLINGTON, Texas _ After having a hand in the Tennessee Titans' collapse against Denver last week, with a muffed kickoff in the fourth quarter, Marc Mariani redeemed himself in a big way in Sunday's 34-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
After a Cowboys penalty on Mark Columbo for excessive celebration, Dallas had to kick off from its own 15-yard line.
Mariani fielded the kickoff at his own 16. He started left and broke back to the right, finding a big crease near midfield and not stopping until Cowboys kicker David Buehler had pushed him out of bounds 73 yards later at the 11. Buehler was also flagged for a face mask, moving the ball just outside the 5, where Chris Johnson eventually scored from a yard out.
“We were excited. They had to kick from the 15 so we moved up a little bit. I caught it on the left side and was breaking back toward the right, and the guys just pushed everybody over pursuit to the left,” Mariani said. “I cut back across the field and at that point, there's one guy to beat. He had a good angle and I got down to the 10 or something.”
Titans safety was nearly ready to intercept Tony Romo's deep pass for Miles Austin in the third quarter, but one of his own teammates knocked him out of the way. Austin wound up catching the ball and running 69 yards untouched for a touchdown.
“I jumped and me and Mouton ran into each other,” Griffin said. “It's kind of one of those plays where they tell the DB to push the receiver out of bounds on the sideline, and Mouton kind of ran into my leg and moved me out of the way just a little bit. Miles Austin was able to make the catch. There's plays like that that happen.”
Slip-sliding a way
Sunday's kickoffs proved to be an issue for kicker Rob Bironas. One kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Cowboys possession at the 40. And on the kickoff before that, Bironas had a squib kick that was fielded by one of the Cowboys' linemen.
So what happened on the squib kickoff?
“My cleats didn't grab. I don't know if they had a water break out there or what, but the turf was wet,” Bironas said.
After the game, Griffin sent out via his Twitter feed that the Titans bus had broken down after the game.