DETROIT (AP) — Marcus Mariota converted a fourth down with a perfectly lofted 9-yard pass to Andre Johnson with 1:13 left, lifting the Tennessee Titans to a 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Mariota dropped the pass over linebacker Tahir Whitehead to Johnson just before safety Rafael Bush could get to the veteran receiver to potentially break up the pass.
The Titans (1-1) ended a five-game losing streak, dating to last December, after Mariota threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter after trailing 15-3.
The Lions (1-1) had an opportunity to drive for a second straight game-winning field goal, but Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Perrish Cox at midfield in the final minute. They had won seven of nine, dating to midway through the 2015 season.
Tennessee started five possessions in Detroit at their 9 or closer to their end zone, making it tough to win the battle of field position. DeMarco Murray flipped the field once with a 67-yard run, his longest since 2011 when he was a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys, but the Titans didn’t take advantage because of penalties in the flag-filled game that included 29 penalties.
Tennessee went 93 yards on 13 plays over nearly 6 minutes on the game-winning drive.
The Titans got tight end Delanie Walker involved as planned, and as Detroit feared it would after letting Indianapolis Colts tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle combine for seven receptions, 88 yards and three TDs last week. Walker had six receptions for 83 yards, including a 30-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter that helped Tennessee pull within five points.
The Lions played without one of their best players on defense, missing linebacker DeAndre Levy because of a quadriceps injury, and lost another top player on that side of the ball early in the game when defensive end Ezekiel Ansah limped off with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah left with an injured left foot after a 24-yard run in the second quarter. The Titans had linebacker Derrick Morgan (hamstring) inactive and rookie Kevin Dodd made the most of the opportunity to play more, sacking Stafford late in the first half. They lost another linebacker, Avery Williamson, with a back injury during the game.
The Titans head back home to host Oakland. Detroit goes on the road, where it will be for three of its first four games, to play Baltimore.