Falcons’ Marcus Mariota has fine showing in exhibition opener

DETROIT -- Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had not started a game over the past two-and-half seasons, had a fine start against the Lions on Friday night in the exhibition opener.

Mariota signed a two-year contract after the Falcons traded long-time quarterback Matt Ryan. He was reunited with Falcons coach Arthur Smith, who was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2019, when Mariota was benched.

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Mariota was 2-of-2 passing for 36 yards on the Falcons’ opening drive. He also rushed three times for 23 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run.

He was under control during the 12-play drive that covered 82 yards and took 9:27 off the clock. He tossed a nice pass to Drake London that picked up 24 yards and another good ball on third-and-8 from the 18 to wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge for a 12-yard gain.

Mariota scored two plays later on a scramble around the left end.

After the nice drive, in which the Falcons overcame two penalties, Mariota was replaced by Desmond Ridder in the second quarter.

Mariota was the backup for the Raiders for the past two seasons. He hadn’t started a game since Oct. 13, 2019.

Mariota, who was drafted No. 2 overall behind Jameis Winston in 2015, won the Heisman Trophy at Oregon.

He had a 29-32 record with the Titans.

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