NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marcus Mariota has thrown himself into the company of the NFLs best quarterbacks, both past and present, just 24 games into his career.If he keeps playing this way, the Tennessee Titans believe their second-year quarterback just might lead them to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.Hes doing what we all thought he was going to do this year, center Ben Jones said. Great composure, guy you trust with the ball at all times, and hes making plays.He sure is.Mariota is a big reason why the Titans (6-6) sit only a half-game out of first in the AFC South at their bye, winners of five of their past eight.The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 pick overall in 2015 out of Oregon struggled during a 1/3 start with four fumbles and five interceptions -- five returned for touchdowns.Since then, Mariota has thrown 21 TD passes with only three interceptions while also running for two more touchdowns. The Titans have gone three straight games without a single turnover.The skys the limit with Marcus, tight end Delanie Walker said.Left tackle Taylor Lewan: Hes a quarterback Ill play for as long as theyll allow me to.Mariotas production has been impressive so far:- Second in the AFC and fifth overall with a 101.9 passer rating this season.- His 25 TD passes trail only New Orleans Drew Brees (30), Green Bays Aaron Rodgers (27) and Atlantas Matt Ryan (26) this season. In franchise history, only George Blanda and Warren Moon have thrown more TD passes in a season.- Ranks fourth in the NFL for most passes of at least 20 yards or longer with 46.- Perfect inside an opponents 20-yard line for his career with 32 TD passes and no interceptions.- Posted a 100 passer rating or better with multiple TD passes in 10 games in his career, something only Dan Marino (14), Russell Wilson (12) and Kurt Warner (11) did during their first two NFL seasons.- On a streak with eight straight games with two or more TD passes, only the second quarterback to have such a streak in his first or second NFL season. Marino had 10 in 1984 in Miami. Mariotas eight-game streak is the NFLs longest since Tom Brady did it in nine consecutive games to start the 2015 season for New England.Mariota heard of that last streak after the Titans held onto a 27-21 win at Chicago last week. He said as a kid he grew up wishing he might be mentioned with some of those quarterbacks.As an athlete, I think you have to have the confidence and belief in yourself, Mariota said. To say I had envisioned joining some of these names would be tough to say.But I really believe in myself, and I hold myself to a high standard. The expectation for me is to be able to consistently be the best player that my team needs me to be. Going forward, Ill continue to do that.Better than Mariotas play may be the confidence he has given his teammates. This franchise won five games combined the past two seasons, and their only winning record since 2008 was 2011 when the Titans missed the playoffs at 9-7 on a tiebreaker.I think guys are starting to understand that we could be in the playoffs, Walker said.Coach Mike Mularkey, given the full-time job in January, and first-year general manager Jon Robinson gave Mariota help. Mularkey simplified both the language and his playbook.Robinson brought in 23 new players to start the season and cut starting cornerback Perrish Cox on Monday to help a defense ranked 25th against the pass.With Jones one of two new starters on the offensive line, Tennessee ranks seventh, allowing only 18 sacks after giving up an NFL-worst 54 in 2015.DeMarco Murray, picked up by Robinson from Philadelphia in a March trade, has made a strong case for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Murray has run for 1,043 yards, second-best in the NFL, and also has 45 catches for 309 yards and three more scores.Along with Mariota and rookie Derrick Henry, the Titans rank third in averaging 141.5 yards rushing per game. Thats their best since 2009 when Chris Johnson ran for 2,006 yards to salvage a 0-6 start.Coordinator Dick LeBeaus defense ranks fifth with 30 sacks and eighth against the run.The Titans go into their bye a half-game out of first in the AFC South, though 1/3 in the division. They host Denver (7-4) with road trips at Kansas City (8-3) and Jacksonville (2-9) before Houston visits Jan. 1 with the division title possibly on the line.Were right where we want to be, Jones said.---For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL .---Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker Alex Wilson Jersey . "Were just throwing s--- at the wall hoping something sticks," said Tortorella about the possible line combinations for Fridays game against Columbus. The Canucks have lost five straight games and six of their last seven, leaving them in a logjam in the Pacific Division, currently sitting fifth - good for ninth in the Western Conference. Victor Martinez Jersey .C. -- Glenn Howard needed an extra end to move into the Masters Grand Slam of Curling final. http://www.tigersgearshop.com/Tigers-Willie-Horton-Kids-Jersey/ .C. -- Calgarys Kevin Koe did it the hard way again. Jeimer Candelario Jersey . They hope to persuade the other team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell to put pressure on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to drop the nickname they find offensive. "Given the way the meeting transpired," Ray Halbritter, an Oneida representative and leader of the "Change the Mascot Campaign," said Wednesday, "it became somewhat evident they were defending the continued use of the name. Dixon Machado Jersey . Howard Ganz, an MLB lawyer, said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that Rodriguezs claims do not come "remotely close" to what is needed to overturn an arbitration decision in federal court. INVERNESS -- With applause raining down from the grandstands overlooking the 18th green at the Scottish Open, Phil Mickelson doffed his cap to an adoring crowd and walked to the side of the putting surface to hug his wife and three children. He was acting out a similar scene just 20 minutes later -- this time having seized his second chance to secure a first victory in Europe in 20 years. Mickelson beat Branden Grace in a playoff Sunday after putting himself, his family and his growing legion of Scottish fans through a tense finale on a wild final day on the Castle Stuart links. "Nobody likes a movie that is predictable," said Mickelson, who appears to be as popular in the Highlands as he is back in California. "You always want to have a little bit of suspense." After overcoming a terrible start to his last round and wiping out a five-shot deficit to overnight leader Henrik Stenson, Mickelson only needed two putts for par on the 72nd hole to complete the perfect preparation for next weeks British Open at Muirfield. From the fringe, 15 feet out, his putt raced past the hole and his return effort from five feet clipped the edge of the cup and stayed out. That meant a new duel with Grace, who shot a 69 like Mickelson in the final round to finish on 17-under 271. Before heading back up the par-5 18th, Lefty embraced his family, who had been waiting nearby hoping to celebrate with him. "I was just getting a little luck from them. And refocusing after making a mistake like that," Mickelson said. It was skill rather than luck that eventually decided things in his favour. With Grace landing his third shot in the playoff 25 feet away, Mickelson seized his chance by producing a pitch from 45 yards with a 64 degree wedge that span back to within a foot of the pin. After days of links-style bump and runs, it was the kind of chip shot he produces week-in, week-out on the PGA Tour that sealed the win. After Mickelson tapped in, his South African opponents putt slid by and the celebrations could really begin for the Mickelson clan. "I almost let it slip away but to come out on top feels terrific," said Mickelson, who will tee off at Muirfield next week as No. 5 in the world and 500,000 pounds ($740,000) richer. "I dont think theres a better way to get ready for a major championship or an Open Championship than playing the week before, playing well the week before and getting into contention. And coming out on top just gives me more confidence." This was his 48th professional victory worldwide, four of which have come in the majors. However, he has never raised aloft the claret jug. Mickelson and Grace finished on 17-under 271 after overhauling Stenson, who bogeyed three of his last six holes for a tie for third with unheralded Dane J.B. Hansen on 15 under.dddddddddddd Rebounding well from his near miss at last months U.S. Open and then his missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic last week, Mickelson had to dig deep to earn his first win on European soil since capturing the Tournoi Perrier Paris on the European Challenge Tour in 1993. When he drove into the rough on the first hole, topped his second shot and then three-putted, he dropped four strokes behind Stenson, who started in a manner befitting his nickname "The Iceman" in the toughest conditions of the week. After three calm and sunny days, the wind picked up off the Moray Firth coastline and turned a beautiful course into a beast. Only five players shot lower than 70 on Sunday. Mickelson was in more trouble when his chip from just off the third green came up short and rolled back down the hill to his feet. He was now five shots off the leader. "In conditions like these, there are going to be mistakes," Mickelson said. "There isnt a perfect round in these conditions." Urged on by a Scottish crowd that has really taken to the American -- a long-time supporter of this tournament and a lover of Scotland and its links courses -- he birdied the next three holes and then picked up shots at Nos. 11, 12, 14 and 16 to take the sole lead, after briefly sharing it with Stenson and Hansen. With the two Scandinavians dropping shots coming home, Grace became Mickelsons closest challenger and his illustrious rival handed him a reprieve to take the event beyond 72 holes. "I was so mad at myself after mentally losing my focus," Mickelson said. They were forced to wait to tee off again with organizers having removed the tee markers on the 18th, clearly confident Mickelson would finish the job the first time around. Mickelson held his nerve in the playoff, though, with his approach shot bringing roars of approval from fans. "This tournament, its special to me ... to play well at the Home of Golf really means a lot to me," he said. Hansen, who had missed the cut in 12 of his 17 previous tournaments in his rookie season, had threatened to produce one of the most remarkable comeback wins. He found the bushes twice on the second fairway -- forcing him to take two penalty drops -- and then chipped short of the green with his sixth to wind up with a quadruple-bogey nine. No one has ever won on the European Tour after making that score in his final round and he couldnt alter that stat, despite reeling off seven birdies on his next eight holes to briefly take the lead. Like Stenson, he faded away in the run home. Martin Laird shot 68 for the lowest round of the day, finishing in a tie for fifth and as the highest-placed Scot. Mickelsons win allowed Steve Stallings of the United States to get into the British Open as an alternate. 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