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Marcus Mariota’s heroic effort against the Chiefs, plus 6 things we loved from Wild Card Weekend

Sean McDonough’s voice is broken, flags were caught, and Alvin Kamara was dealing.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs The Tennessean-USA TODAY Sports

One definition of a superhero involves “an exceptionally skillful or successful person.” On Saturday, Marcus Mariota was the superhero that the Titans needed.

If you strictly look at Mariota’s passing numbers, it doesn’t look like anything exceptional. He completed 19-of-31 passes with two touchdowns and an interception. I expect after reading this, many of you will email me in a fury anyway.

But the box score could never tell you just how impactful and skillful he was on Saturday. One of his touchdown passes? It went to himself:

That’s the first time that’s happened in over 20 years.

But Mariota’s heroics didn’t stop there. After helping lead the charge alongside Derrick Henry to an 18-point comeback, Mariota threw a block — that many would call a bad business decision — to seal the game:

There’s not many quarterbacks in the NFL that are going to be willing to make that block. And some that might be willing, well, simply couldn’t do it.

Shouts go out to the local NBC affiliate in Nashville, which recognized Mariota’s superhero game:

Reddit user DaPhillyKid

It looks like they left space for anything else he wanted to try at the end. Smart.

The Titans didn’t live up to raised expectations this season. They took a step with a postseason appearance, despite another 9-7 season. Mariota also didn’t take the leap many expected him to during the season, partially because of injuries.

But Mariota showed in a game where nobody gave the Titans a chance what he’s capable of. It was also a good reminder of what he, and the Titans, can still become.

Here’s what else we loved in the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend.

Sean McDonough’s voice showed more crack than a plumber

There’s fewer things more brutal than a bad voice crack, but this was more than a voice crack by ESPN’s Sean McDonough. This was like a voice earthquake that displayed a gigantic fault line once it was finished.

Hear it for yourself, as McDonough believed the Chiefs had capitalized on what wasn’t a Derrick Henry fumble:

If you were wondering how that call should look on paper:

Derrick Johnson the all-time LLLEEEEaAAaaaAaaading tackler iiiIIiiIIn the hiiiIiiistory of the ChiiiieeeEeeEEEEefs!”

He sounded worse than I did in Señora Hatfield’s Spanish 4 class while reading the syllabus on the first day of class many years ago. Oof.

It’s OK though: Gaffes happen to the best of us. McDonough is still great at what he does, and his excitement during games is appreciated — but that was hilarious. Keep doing you, Sean.

Catching flags, not feelings

For some reason, NFL players decided this weekend they were going to save officials time by catching penalty flags as they were tossed.

Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones caught his on some Forrest Gump-like circumstances. He was minding his own business, looked up, and made a smooth one-handed grab:

Robert Woods looked like he could have been playing catch with an official in Los Angeles:

Players should catch flags more often, especially if they know the penalty is on them. In certain circumstances, it’s Actually Good to intentionally commit a penalty.

Let everyone know how smart you are for doing so by committing the penalty and then seeking that piece of laundry.

Jon Gruden is the bravest person on the planet

Jon Gruden showed us the last time a quarterback caught his own touchdown pass, as Marcus Mariota did on Saturday. It made for a funny moment because ESPN didn’t just show the clip on TV, and we learned Gruden had an iPhone instead of some flip phone.

But everybody is missing the larger point here.

I’m going to assume that Gruden isn’t necessarily tech-saavy at his age. This means he probably didn’t turn of iMessage previews, so when a text message pops up across the top of the screen, we all could have read it.

Just imagine, Jon Gruden holding up his phone for America as a text message pops up. It reads one of the following:


Jay: Please let me be your offensive coordinator. I can’t fucking stand Snyder!

Mark Davis: Scheduled us an appt. 4 matching haircuts! :) Can’t wait!

Do not answer: Hey big head ;)

Somebody tell Gruden to never do that again. It could have blown that alleged sweet 10-year, $100 million deal.

Marcus Peters wants to know what the move is

Clearly Marcus Peters is somebody who enjoys a good time. Football is fun, and after being eliminated, he was looking for more.

Somebody yells out to Peters as he makes his way towards the locker room, “Let’s Go Marcus!” Peters then replies, “Shit, where we going? Home?”

Earlier in the season Peters got beat for a pair of touchdowns against Washington but was asked about a fumble he forced. He gave us a gem.

“That made my game from hella weak to weak, you feel me?” He added, “I’m not hella weak, I’m just weak this week. Next week I’ll get back on my shit though so yeah.”


A camera guy saw his life flashing before his eyes

Blake Bortles was running to the sideline with a couple of Bills defenders chasing him late in the Jags’ game against the Bills.

I made this observation on Twitter and I will share it here as well without shame — this is the first time anybody has been afraid to defend Blake Bortles.

Seriously, look at his face:

You would have thought an actual Jaguar was coming after this guy. Calm down yo.

Alvin Kamara has the goods

After the NFL’s best rookie Alvin Kamara scored a touchdown to put the Saints up for good at 31-19, he was seen on the sideline passing out AirHeads.

If that’s not a boss move, I don’t know what else is. Not only is Kamara out here giving NFL defenses nightmares, but he’s passing out candy on the sideline with time still on the clock.

I also like to pretend that he’s wearing that white tape on the back of his arms to demoralize opponents. It’s what they see after he’s already zoomed past them, as if he’s telling them to wave the white flag and give up.

I see a watermelon AirHead in there. If you still got it Al, send it to the SB Nation offices.


ESPN’s Sean McDonough basically confirmed that Jon Gruden’s going to the Raiders.

Referees had a rough time during Titans-Chiefs, and Marcus Peters gave one a hug.

The Chiefs turned a Titans muffed punt into 9 yards for the Titans.

The Chiefs probably should’ve let Derrick Henry score to have a chance at overtime.

Kansas City news station runs chyron about the Chiefs’ victory. They didn’t win.

Takk McKinley’s artistic sack dance.

Alex Mack carried Devonta Freeman into the end zone for a touchdown.

Rams OT Andrew Whitworth now owns a bad NFL record.

The Chiefs have a rough time in the postseason, explained.

The Falcons are on a mission to bury history.

Bills fans were so pumped even kids jumped through tables.

Even Bill Cowher jumped through a table.

Tony Khan was PUMPED for the Jaguars’ first playoff TD in 10 years.

Saints DT Tony McDaniel was told his wife was in labor mid-game, but it turned out to be the stomach flu.

Wild Card Weekend Scores

Titans 22, Chiefs 21

Falcons 26, Rams 13

Bills 3, Jaguars 10

Panthers 26, Saints 31

The top stories from Wild Card Weekend