While Jameis Winston was the the higher acclaimed quarterback coming out of college, Marcus Mariota got the best of him today in their NFL debuts. Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in the same draft, faced off earlier today in Tampa Bay. As a mere three point favorite at home, Tampa Bay was not only expected to put up a fight, but many analysts picked them to win.
The game was never close, as the Tennessee Titans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 42-14. Mariota threw for an unbelievable four touchdowns passes in the first half. According to ESPN, he is the first rookie in NFL history to toss at least two touchdown passes in the first quarter of his NFL debut. For comparison purposes, throwing for four touchdowns in a half is difficult for even the most elite and seasoned veteran quarterbacks. You can view Mariota’s first career touchdown pass below, courtesy of the official NFL Twitter page.
The most impressive part is that Mariota only threw a total of 16 passes the entire game. He completed 13 of those passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. This comes out to a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. While Mariota is not going to finish with a perfect quarterback rating in every game, this is a very convincing start for the former Oregon Duck. For a team that only had two wins last season, Mariota and the Titans should be a strong contender for a few additional victories this year.
While Mariota literally had the perfect day, Winston struggled. Like Mariota, his first touchdown pass also came in the opening quarter. The problem is it came in an interception to Titans defensive back Coty Sensabaugh. You can see the clip below, courtesy of the official NFL Twitter page.
Things got slightly better for Winston and the Buccaneers, as he threw his first career touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins on the first play of the second quarter. While Winston threw another interception in the second quarter, he did show signs of life as the game went on, and threw another touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He finished the game with 16 completions out of 33 attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
While neither the Buccaneers or the Titans are expected be competitive this season, it is going to be interesting to watch Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota go through the growing pains of their rookie seasons. Since they do not play in the same conference, it is unlikely they will go head-to-head again for a few more years. By that time, both Winston and Mariota could be Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
[Image via Joe Robbins/Getty Images]