MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Marcus Mariota did everything but sack Ryan Tannehill, leaving that task for his teammates with the Tennessee Titans.
Mariota threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score, complementing a defense that sacked Tannehill six times to help Tennessee beat the reeling Miami Dolphins 30-17 Sunday.
Mariota bounced back with a strong game after totaling three interceptions and no TD passes in losses the past two weeks. He went 20 for 29 for 163 yards with no interceptions and no sacks, and ran seven times for 60 yards.
“I saw some open lanes and just ran,” he said.
DeMarco Murray added 121 yards rushing for the Titans, who totaled 235 on the ground for their highest total since 2009, according to Pro Football Reference. They improved to 2-3, and Miami fell to 1-4.
Tannehill and the Dolphins offense turned in another woeful performance aside from the occasional long gain. Rookie Jakeem Grant scored on a 74-yard punt return , Damien Williams had a 58-yard, catch-and-run to set up a touchdown, and DeVante Parker made a 50-yard reception that led to a field goal.
But by the second quarter, the crowd was booing Tannehill. By the fourth, fans were chanting for his replacement, Matt Moore, who hasn’t started a game since 2011.
“Do I like it? No,” Tannehill said. “But it doesn’t affect how I play or how I think about myself.”
First-year coach Adam Gase stood firm by the fifth-year quarterback.
“He’s not coming out,” Gase said. “You can ask me 100 times. He’s going to be in there the rest of the season.”
But Gase acknowledged serious issues on offense.
“We’re inept right now,” Gase said. “We can’t get out of our own way.”
It didn’t help that the Dolphins were without both starters on the left side of their offensive line, and the Titans took advantage while doubling their season sack total. Brian Orakpo had two sacks to increase his season total to six, and Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey added two apiece.
The Titans’ Jason McCourty yanked a pass away from Parker for an interception to set up a field goal.
Mariota directed touchdown drives of 61, 76, 75 yards and 66 yards. He scored his first rushing touchdown of the year on a 5-yard keeper , and threw for scores of 5 yards to Andre Johnson, 20 yards to Delanie Walker and 4 yards to former Dolphin Rishard Matthews.
Miami, by contrast, totaled eight first downs. Tannehill finished 12 for 18 for 191 yards with two interceptions.
Mariota repeatedly hurt the Dolphins with his running. He scrambled 21 yards to set up the Titans’ third touchdown, and converted a third down with a 19-yard scramble in the fourth quarter when his team was nursing a seven-point lead.
“He’s a very dangerous guy back there,” Murray said.
The Dolphins’ poor run defense allowed Tennessee to control the ball for nearly 37 minutes.
“I can assure you guys are frustrated,” Miami defensive end Cameron Wake said. “Guys are disappointed. Frankly, I hope that everybody is mad and uncomfortable with this feeling, because with the kind of guys and kind of team we have, this should not be happening.”
Johnson improved to 8-0 against the Dolphins and scored his second touchdown of the year.
The Titans, who had been outscored 30-9 in the first quarter this year, scored a TD in the opening period for the first time.
MIAMI BIG PLAYS
The Dolphins trailed in yards 195-26 late in the first half but were still in the game thanks to Grant. The rookie scored his first NFL touchdown by eluding five tacklers, including Kevin Byard after fielding the kick.
The Titans fired special teams coach Bobby April on Monday, one day after they gave up a 67-yard punt return for a TD.
The Titans play Cleveland next Sunday in the first of three consecutive home games. The Dolphins continue a four-game homestand when they play Pittsburgh.