Second half burst gives Colts win over Tennessee
The Indianapolis Colts rebounded from a 14-0 deficit to beat Tennessee 30-27 in Nashville Thursday night.
The win comes on the heels of a 38-8 home blowout to the St. Louis Rams.
"They were bound and determined to try to find a way to make amends for the home loss. It was embarrassing," said head coach Chuck Pagano after the game.
The Titans got on the board first, driving down the field after receiving the opening kickoff and taking a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard touchdown run by Chris Johnson. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was four-of-five for 50 yards passing on the drive.
After forcing a Colts punt, Tennessee drove 68 yards, taking a 14-0 lead on Johnson's second touchdown run of the night, this time from seven yards. Johnson had 80 yards rushing in the first half, but just 16 the rest of the way.
The Colts moved into Titans territory as the first quarter ended, but the drive stalled at the Tennessee 30-yard line. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal to put points on the board for Indianapolis.
Tennessee got that field goal back late in the quarter, as Rob Bironas connected from 25 yards to push the lead back to 17-3. The Titans' drive was aided by three Colts penalties for 42 yards, including back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Cassius Vaughn and Erik Walden.
"It seems that's how we're making our living, is handling adversity. It caught up with us two games ago against the Rams and we can't continue to do that," Pagano said. "Credit Tennessee, they came, obviously, they came ready to play and they're playing for the same thing we are."
"I think the resolve and grit on this team is very, very high," Luck said after the game.
Vinatieri made his second field goal, a 30-yarder, as time expired in the half to send the Colts to the locker room down 17-6.
The Colts got even closer on the first possession of the second half, driving 74 yards in 11 plays to cut the Tennessee lead to 17-13. Donald Brown scored on a six-yard run for the first Indianapolis touchdown of the night.
Indianapolis got the ball right back after Titans return man Devon Wylie fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Titans 20. Two plays later, Andrew Luck ran 11 yards to the end zone, giving the Colts a 20-17 lead.
A 50-yard Vinatieri field goal extended the lead to 23-17, before Bironas kicked a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to bring Tennessee back within three points.
Brown's second touchdown run, an 11-yard score with just over three minutes remaining, gave Indianapolis a 30-20 lead.
Delanie Walker caught a 19-yard touchdown pass on the first play after the two-minute warning to cut the Indianapolis lead to 30-27, but Pat Angerer covered the onside kick and Luck was able to kneel on the ball to run out the clock.
"It was a wild one. They came out and they played hard. They spread us out, hurried us up, we didn't play too well at first. They're a good football team, so to get out of a quick week with a win and a sloppy game to start with versus a good football team is pretty impressive," Angerer said after the game.
Indianapolis will travel next to Arizona for a November 24 matchup with the Cardinals, who are coached by former Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Arians also served as interim coach of the Colts last season while Pagano recovered from leukemia.
The Tennessee Titans have deactivated center Brian Schwenke and middle linebacker Moise Fokou against Indianapolis, and the Colts are starting Cassius Vaughn at cornerback with Greg Toler missing his third straight game.
The Titans already had declared Schwenke out after he hurt his ankle in Sunday's 29-27 loss to Jacksonville. Fokou is missing his fourth straight game Thursday night with an injured left knee. The Titans also make inactive defensive end Lavar Edwards, offensive tackle Mike Otto and cornerback Tommie Campbell.
Toler stayed in Indianapolis along with backup cornerback Josh Gordy because of groin injuries. Backup safety Delano Howell also is out with a neck injury. The Colts also have inactive rookie receiver Da'Rick Rogers, promoted from the practice squad earlier this week. Defensive tackle Montori Hughes also is out.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)