The Indianapolis Colts come from behind once again on a 13-point deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 27-23 in what was looked at as a trap game as some thought the Colts would be looking ahead to their game against the Houston Texans next week.
The win secured the Colts a winning season far after winning only two games all of last season. With a 9-4 record, not only are they clearly in the playoff race but they still have to play the Texans twice, starting next week. If they can sweep the series the Colts have a chance to become division champions and host a playoff game.
Meanwhile the Titans dropped to 4-9 while losing for the fifth time in their last six games.
“Well I’ll just say it’s another very disappointing loss for us.” said Coach Mike Munchak. “We played a good, solid first half in a lot of ways and played to how we thought we were able to and then come out in the second half and looking to get back in the game. They did a nice job to open the second half, obviously had many chances to stop them on third down but they made plays, and the turnovers are just things we cannot do. Turn the ball over twice, one for points, really both times for points. Ten points when you had two turnovers and that put us in a spot and they converted in the four-minute drill to win the game so we had opportunities once again and didn’t make the plays in the second half.”
The story of this game is a tale of two different half’s.
“It was like the tail of two halves obviously, something that we can obviously learn from.” Said Coach Bruce Arians “Why we played as poorly as we did in the first half, we’ll go back and try to evaluate because we seemed to be ready to play the ball game
After Jake Locker‘s horrible day against the Texans last week he was on his game today as he took the Titans all the way down the field on their opening drive, going 6-for-6 passes for 53-yards before connecting with tight end Jared Cook on a 18-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd and 6 to take an early 7-0 lead.
Luck quickly brought the Colts back when he found Reggie Wayne on a four-yard touchdown to tie it up at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. The drive was aided by 36-yard completion to fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton.
Locker had the hot hand in the first half when he completed a 46-yard reception to Kenny Britt to bring the Colts down into scoring territory but the drive stalled and the Titans were forced to settle for a field goal with a 40-yarder by Ron Bironas. This was Kenny Britt’s best game of the season since battling back from a multitude of injuries as he had 8-receptions for 143-yards, averaging 17.9 yards per catch.
Locker completed 22-of-35 passes for 262-yards and 1 touchdown, but the two interceptions he through ended up being the difference in the ball game.
The Titans extended the lead when on a 3rd and 3, Titans Defensive End Derrick Morgan bull rushed his way around the end in pursuit of Luck, flushing up the pocket and brought him down while at the same time Luck got rid of the ball as he was falling forward and threw the ball right into the hands of Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon who was just a few feet away and took it 40-yards the other way for the touchdown to go up 17-7. The official review clearly looked to have shown that Luck’s knee was down just before he threw the ball. However, the officials headed by Pete Morelli blew the call and instead of it being reversed to a sack and 4th down, the call and touchdown stood.
After getting the ball back right before the half Locker and Britt continued to put on a show as they connected on a one hand 46-yard catch, but the Titans drive stalled again as Bironas nailed a field goal from 31-yards out to go into halftime with a 20-7 lead.
But while the first half clearly belonged to the Titans the second half was all Colts as Luck started to engineer his sixth fourth-quarter comeback. Something Luck said he is becoming very comfortable with.
“I think it’s nice being in, in the fourth quarter when you know you have a chance to win or a chance to ice the game. Whatever that situation is, everybody on the team offensively, defensively and special teams, just plays football. They’re not worried about the scoreboard too much, not worried about what’s going on. I think they’re aware of the situation and go out there and play football to the best of our ability. I think it’s just not overthinking all of the situations at this point.”
The Colts got the ball to open the second half and Luck marched his team 80-yards in a 14 play drive as the Titans defense started to bend and break, allowing two 3rd-down completions to veteran Reggie Wayne, one being a 20-yard completion on 3rd and 11 and rookie Vick Ballard broke runs of 13 and 11-yards before yielding to Delone Carter who punched it in from one-yard out to close the gap 20-14.
The Titans thought they got a break when they forced the Colts to punt, until Colts Punter Pat McAfee nailed a 52-yard punt that pinned the Titans down at their own 1-yard line. On the very next play Locker took the snap and threw a quick hitch pass to Nate Washington but Cassius Vaughn bated Locker and jumped the route and picked him off and took it to the end zone to give the Colts the lead 21-20.
“It’s always taking a big risk.” Said Cassius Vaughn “Once he’s off and behind you, it’s always a risk. We believe in what we do. No matter what, we believe in what we do. In the beginning of the game, they were getting us on a couple deep balls, a couple come-backs. We turned it up in the second half.”
The Titans tried to rebound in the fourth quarter to gain back the momentum with a 16-play drive but only resulted in a field goal. Aside from good pass plays to Tight End Craig Stevens for 19-yards and Wide Receiver Nate Washington for 15-yards the Titans drive was unimpressive as it was aided by two defensive penalties by the Colts.
After the Titans and Colts traded field goals to bring the score to a 24-23 by the Colts the Titans had one more chance to comeback to take the lead and the game. But on 2nd and 8 with 5:43 left to play in the game Locker took the snap and rolled out to his right threw across his body on a pass that was intended for Nate Washington but was picked off by Darius Bulter, giving the Colts the ball at the Titans 28-yard line. The Colts added another field goal by Adam Vinatieri on a 40-yarder to seal the game 27-23.
The Titans were outscored 20-3 in the second half of the ball game.
“It was frustrating. It was frustrating for sure. All you can do is keep working. We just made a lot of little mental mistakes.” Said Jake Locker “We had penalties we didn’t have in the first half. We just made some mistakes. We had turnovers. We didn’t have that in the first half. Those are things that can be a difference between gaining a bunch of yards and scoring points and not. We were ahead of the chains in the first half and we weren’t in the second and that can make a difference.”
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was in attendance today as he continues his miraculous recovery from his battle with leukemia and is priming for a return to the sidelines before the end of the year. In what has become an inspirational storybook season for the Colts, one can’t help find themselves rooting for the Colts.
The Titans continue to look for answers for a season gone wrong as they play host to the New York Jets on Monday Night Football while the Colts will head to Reliant Stadium for a crucial division game with the Houston Texans.
- With the Colts’ victory, Luck got credit for his sixth fourth quarter/overtime game-winning drive for the Colts, which is the most by a rookie since the AFL/NFL merger. He surpassed Vince Young (2006 Titans) and Ben Roethlisberger (2004 Steelers) who each had five.
- The Titans are now 0-5 vs. Divisional Opponents this season.
- Reggie Wayne finished the game with six catches for 64 yards and one touchdown. With six receptions, Wayne (956) moved past Andre Reed for 10th place on the league’s all-time receptions list. With his touchdown reception, Wayne (77) also moved into a tie for 24th place on the league’s all-time touchdowns list with Joey Galloway and Larry Fitzgerald.
- Kenny Britt caught eight receptions for 143 yards. It marked his seventh career 100-yard receiving game and his first of 2012. The last time he reached 100 yards was Sept. 18, 2011, one week before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
- With 64 receiving yards, Wayne surpassed the 1,200-yard receiving plateau (1,220) this season and tied Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt for the third-most seasons with at least 1,200 yards (six). Jerry Rice holds the record with 11 seasons followed by Randy Moss with eight.
- In the first half, wide receiver Kendall Wright became the third all-time leading receiver among franchise rookies. He passed former running back Sid Blanks, who caught 56 passes as a rookie in 1964. Wright trails only Bill Groman (72 in 1960) and Ernest Givins (61 in 1986) on the list.
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