It’ll be fascinating to see how Hundley plays, both in terms of saving the Packers this season and how it might impact his future. As was the case for Jimmy Garoppolo last season, Hundley is entering a high-profile role during the third year of his rookie deal. If he plays well, the Packers would be forced into a compelling quandary. They obviously aren’t about to move on from Rodgers, who will turn 34 in December. The Patriots can see the end of the 40-year-old Tom Brady’s career coming; the Packers are still years away from replacing Rodgers and can’t justify keeping Hundley around as a backup.
Thanks to that play, the result was mostly academic. The Colts’ comeback attempt sputtered and Derrick Henry sealed the deal with a 72-yard touchdown run, moving the Titans to 3-3 and saving them from a deep hole in the AFC South race. Mariota finished with 306 yards on 23-of-32 passing, making the important plays even when the injury took away his bootleg/scrambling ability.
Now tied with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars on top of the division, the Titans’ season is alive and well. They get the hapless Cleveland Browns next Sunday before a Week 8 bye, giving Mariota some much-needed time to rest that hamstring. If they fell to 2-4, the picture would be much grimmer, and that Week 4 boat-racing by the Texans would loom much larger. Getting back to .500 means everything in this critical juncture of the season.
Mariota clearly wasn’t 100 percent Monday, and there’s a fair debate as to whether the Titans even should’ve played him. But despite the flaws and concerning play early on, Mariota gutted it out and delivered the plays that Cassel would never make. As a result, the Titans avoided a bad home loss and get to recalibrate after their slow start, with all their hopes and goals still attainable. That’s the kind of luxury a team can afford when it has a true leader under center like Mariota.