Sunday wasn't the ending to the NFL's regular season the Tennessee Titans were hoping for. But a 23-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts didn't top Titans rookie and former Havre Blue Pony Marc Mariani from making a little more history.
Mariani ripped off a 47-yard kickoff return on his second return of the day, and in the process of that return broke Derrick Mason’s franchise record, set in 2000, of 1,794 combined punt and kickoff return yards in a single season. It was the second return record Mariani set in as many weeks. At Kansas City on Dec. 26, he broke Bobby Jancik’s 1963 franchise record for most kickoff return yards in a single season.
Mariani finished his last regular season game with the Titans with 119 kickoff return yards as well as seven punt return years. For the year, Mariani totaled 1,859 total return yards, which ranks as one of the Top 20 seasons by a return man in NFL history. Mariani was also the only player in the NFL this season to return both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown, and for his efforts, will play in the Pro Bowl on Jan. 30 in Hawaii. Mariani finished the season ranked eighth in the NFL with a 25.5-yard kickoff return average (60 returns for 1,530 yards), and he ranked fifth in the league with a 12.2-yard punt return average (27 for 329 yards).
"It was a fun year," Mariani said on Monday from the Titans headquarters in Nashville. "For me being a rookie, it was a good experience for me."