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Vikings fall in pre-season finale

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NASHVILLE—Marcus Mariota finally showed he could start a game in style, and now the warm-up act is over for the rookie quarterback.

Mariota threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas to cap his only series as the Tennessee Titans wrapped up the pre-season by beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-17 last night.

The No. 2 overall pick out of Oregon played only four snaps for the Titans (2-2).

But he proved very efficient as he was 2-of-3 for 74 yards, and concluded the pre-season 21-of-30 for 326 yards with one interception and a 102.9 passer rating.

“It’s really exciting to be part of this offence,” Mariota said.

“Guys are continuing to get better, and I feel that we built a solid foundation throughout the pre-season,” he noted.

“Now it’s time to go.”

Mariota’s next game will be the Titans’ season-opener Sept. 13 at Tampa Bay against the quarterback selected first overall, Jameis Winston.

Titans’ coach Ken Whisenhunt said they accomplished what they wanted even with Mariota going up against the Vikings’ back-ups.

They jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with a TD pass by Zach Mettenberger set up by a fumble forced by Titans’ cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

“We accomplished what we wanted to do tonight, and that was No. 1, start fast, and No. 2, win at home,” Whisenhunt said.

“That’s something that’s important to us.”

The Vikings (4-1) lost for the first time in nine pre-season games under coach Mike Zimmer.

Minnesota went with rookie Taylor Heinicke, giving quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill the night off among 29 Vikings who did not play.

Running back Adrian Peterson dressed and warmed up, but finished the pre-season without taking a snap.

“Well, I don’t really care about my record but I don’t like to lose,” Zimmer said.

The highlight play came when Ryan Succop chased down a bad snap on an extra point attempt in the fourth quarter.

The Titans’ kicker then heaved a pass downfield to defensive lineman Angelo Blackson, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch for the two-point conversion.

But long snapper Beau Brinkley was flagged for being an ineligible receiver downfield, erasing the points and the play.

Succop then connected on the extra point with the second chance for a 24-10 lead.

Heinicke, the rookie out of Old Dominion trying to earn a job as the Vikings’ No. 3 quarterback, played the entire game.

He threw for 279 yards and his first two TD passes.

His first came courtesy of Dominique Williams making a nice one-handed grab in the third quarter.

“He showed he’s got something to him,” Zimmer said.

The Vikings play their regular-season opener Sept. 14 at San Francisco.

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