NEW ORLEANS – Interim Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey paused for a moment and took a deep breath while he regained his composure.
The clutch play of rookie Marcus Mariota and the relentless effort of his beat-up defense meant that much to him.
Mariota passed for a personal-best 371 yards and four touchdowns, including a 5-yard scoring pass to Anthony Fasano in overtime, and Tennessee snapped a six-game skid with a 34-28 victory over New Orleans on Sunday.
"I'm still shaking," Mularkey said. "It was an absolutely great win for this team. They are so competitive and want to win so badly. Never once did they ever flinch. We kept coming back and we had to find a way to win this game."
The Saints (4-5), who had won three in a row, led 21-10 but could not put away the Titans (2-6), who turned in a feisty performance in their first game since coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired and replaced by Mularkey.
"Obviously, when you lose like that in overtime, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "It was a game, despite the imperfections and how we played, we had a chance still at the end and we weren't able to execute."
Sunday also marked Mariota's return from a knee sprain that sidelined him for two games. He completed 28 of 39 passes, at times converting quick, decisive throws under pressure. He was not sacked, sometimes rolling away from pressure to buy more time, and did not turn the ball over.
Mariota said he didn't want to overstate the significance of one victory, but added, "After this hectic week of ours, to pull out this win is huge."
Brees was 28-for-39 for 387 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored on a short keeper.