The Indianapolis Colts looked like they had a shot of beating the Tennessee Titans heading into this game. Boy was I dead wrong.
The Titans jumped to a 20-0 lead, eventually winning and improving to 4-3, beating the 0-8 Colts 27-10. It was the Titans first victory against Indy since 2008.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 224 yards with a touchdown and Nate Washington helped Tennessee score twice. Things were going all Tennessee’s way, and they could not be stopped.
All sides of the ball were looking good for the Titans. While they had a good passing game going on offense, the running game could still use some help. Chris Johnson is struggling and did not make the impact many predicted against a weak Colts rush defense — he only tallied 34 rushing yards. Javon Ringer, on the other hand, produced 60 rushing yards.
The Titans defense looked solid, as they produced two interceptions and two important goal-line stops in the fourth quarter to ensure the victory. Even special teams was going their way, as Rob Bironas hit two 50-yard field goals. The Titans also blocked a punt, which was recovered by Jason McCourty for a touchdown.
The punt return for a touchdown set the tone for the game, as the Titans led 10-0 to start the second quarter. Nate Washington followed up those points with a touchdown with only 22 seconds left in the first half — putting Tennessee up 20-0.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Colts looked to make a comeback, starting with a four-yard touchdown run by Donald Brown.
Painter tried scoring in the end zone twice but failed. The the Titans put the nail in the coffin with another touchdown from Hasselbeck to Washington. Indy attempted to make a comeback that featured big runs by Painter, who finished with 79 yards rushing, but the outcome was all but decided by that point. Indy failed four times in a row on the goal-line and fave the ball back to Tennessee.
The Titans punted back to the Colts, allowing less than two minutes for Indy to get into the end zone, but it didn’t happen. Indianapolis made it to the goal-line again, but was unable to score.
Despite the red zone inefficiency, Indy did improve in the second half. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for a victory.
“We certainly know what we’re capable of doing,” said Painter. “We came out in the second half and moved the ball well and played well. We’ve just got to get sharper and not be inconsistent.”
Penalties also screwed the Colts. For the game Indianapolis accumulated ten flag for 66 yards.
“I think we had eight in the first half or something like that, which is highly uncharacteristic of us,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. “You couple that with a couple turnovers, and it’s a tough day.”
The Colts also suffered from injuries, with key players on the offensive line like Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Diem out. The backups allowed two sacks on Painter.
Painter struggled a bit in the passing game but finished with 250 yards and two picks, good for a 50.6 rating. Delone Carter added 46 yards on the ground. Dallas Clark was the biggest target for Indy in the air, as he finished with six catches for 77 yards. Garcon got his typical touches from Painter, producing 66 yards on seven catches. Wayne and Collie had five catches going for 61 yards and 44 yards, respectively.
Indianapolis will play the Atlanta Falcons next. They will look to avoid a 55-point beating like what happened when they faced another strong offensive team in the NFC South.
The Colts and Dolphins are the only two teams left that haven’t won a game. The Rams broke their streak after a win over the Saints, 31-21. Miami also could have won, but the New York Giants made a comeback. Right now, the Colts are the worst. Miami and St. Louis has improved significantly — based upon their Week 8 performances.
For the Colts, many areas still need improvement. Keep your heads high, Colts fans.