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Marcus Mariota badly outplays Bucs’ Jameis Winston

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Did the Tampa Bay Bucs take the wrong quarterback?

Jameis Winston of Florida State over Oregon’s Marcus Mariota? Given the chance, would they do it all over again?

Such questions are fair considering how dominant Mariota’s performance was over Winston’s on Sunday afternoon. Actually, a lot of questions are in bounds as the Tennessee Titans won a 42-14 game over Tampa Bay Sunday.

Mariota was superb, hitting 13 of 16 passes with four touchdowns, earning a rating of 158.3. By contrast, Winston – taken one slot above him in the draft – hit 16 of 33 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. On his third pass of the day, Mariota hit a 52-yard touchdown pass. On his first throw, Winston had a pass intercepted and returned 26 yards for a touchdown.

So did the Bucs take the wrong guy?

“Their quarterback played better today,” Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith said. “Their football team played better today, their football coach did a better job of coaching their football team than I did today. But that’s today. This is one game. Lets not over-react to a bad performance. We’re going to feel bad about this one. Give them all their due credit. We have the guy who is perfect for us going forward.

Still, it was a disappointing day for the Bucs. They were favored over Tennessee, which was also 2-14 last year. They were at home. They had a fan base who seemed willing to believe in a new start, and a new energy.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Winston said. “I have to play better. If I don’t throw that pick, the game probably goes differently.”

And the Bucs never stood a chance. Tennessee scored on five of their first six possessions. Their starting tailback, Bishop Sankey, averaged 6.2 yards per carry. And the Titans won going away.

“A sellout crowd quickly left the stadium, disappointed as the Bucs fell to 0-9 at Raymond James under Lovie Smith.

Smith kept saying that this was just one game, that the Bucs are one week away from feeling better. But coming off a 2-14 season, that’s probably not going to be a sweet sound to the fans.

“I think if we go away and do our job, the fans will come back,” Smith said.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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