The Indianapolis Colts (5-5) almost let a 21-0 lead get away from them but came through late, beating the Tennessee Titans (5-6) in a hard-fought divisional game.
Andrew Luck went 15-28 for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns but struggled in the second half behind a porous offensive line. Rookie Joe Haeg, filling in for an injured Joe Reitz, never seemed comfortable and was beaten often throughout the day by Tennessee standout Derrick Morgan (1.5 sacks).
Indianapolis’s defense played well in the first half before surrendering a late touchdown to Marcus Mariota. Mariota finished the game with 290 yards and two touchdowns, picking up steam as the game went on.
The Colts came out strong scoring on three straight possessions and limiting the Titans to 21 total yards. They relied heavily on Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton who combined for 218 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
Adam Vinatieri went 1/2 on field goals. His first miss of the game – and season – came late in the second half, setting the Titans up with excellent field position for their half-ending touchdown drive. It was Vinatieri’s first miss in 45 attempts; his 44-kick streak is an NFL record.
On defense the Colts struggled in the second half. The Titans were able to sustain long drives and were only really stopped following penalties. Vontae Davis was healthy but played poorly, targeted often for first downs and committing a demoralizing pass interference penalty late in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee would convert their first fourth down on their final drive but came up short on their second with 2:50 remaining, when Clayton Geathers stuffed Demarco Murray’s rushing attempt.
The Colts also honored the players who played for their Super Bowl-winning team in 2007 at halftime. Peyton Manning joined the play-by-play guys in the booth in the second quarter, commenting on Luck and Mariota before joining his former teammates on the field below. There are still two active players on Indianapolis from that season; Robert Mathis and Vinatiari.
It is Indianapolis’s 11th-straight win against Tennessee. They finish the year 2-0 against the Titans and are currently 2-2 in divisional game. Jacksonville (2-8) lost to Detroit Sunday. Houston (6-3) will play Oakland in Monday Night Football Nov. 21.
Andrew Luck – 15/28, 262 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Frank Gore – 18 rushes, 50 yards
T.Y. Hilton – 5 catches, 97 yards, 1 TD
Highlight of the Day
Up 7-0 around midfield the Colts set up in shotgun before motioning Andrew Luck. The ball was snapped to Gore who shoveled it off to Luck, as Indianapolis’s receivers took off downfield; Gore subsequently positioned himself just past the line of scrimmage. Luck barely looked downfield, instead connecting with a wide-open Gore for a 50-yard catch and run to Tennessee’s 5-yard line.
Standout Player – Offense: Andrew Luck
Luck’s final stats don’t do him justice. After going up 21-0 Indianapolis came down the field again but Dwayne Allen dropped an easy first-down pass; later, Hilton dropped a long-bomb pass that would have been a touchdown in the third. Luck was also pressured for the majority of the game but was (miraculously) only sacked twice, often scrambling from pressure. Luck finished with 8 carries for 22 yards to go with his passing yards. Hilton also played well, three-yards shy of 100 for the fourth time this year.
Standout Player – Defense: Clayton Geathers
Indianapolis’s second-year safety (9 tackles) had one of the best game in his career Sunday, both in pass coverage and against the run. In the first half he stifled Tennessee’s run game and knocked down a potential third-down pass; in the second he helped stop a fake punt and came up with the game-ending hit against Murray. Indianapolis also got quality play from Erik Walden (1 sack, 2 tackles for loss) and D’Qwell Jackson (1 sack, 1 pass defended).
Next Week – vs. Pittsburgh (5-5)