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Week Eleven Game Notes: Colts 30, Titans 27

The Colts once again started slow, but their finish was tremendous, and they beat the Titans 30-27 in Tennessee.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another bad first half, and another great second half.  It really is incredible.  The Colts trailed 17-6 at halftime and ended up winning 30-27, scoring 17 straight points to start the second half.  There is a ton to talk about from this game, so let's just jump right into the game notes:

  • If you are going to criticize the coaching staff for the first half failures you also have to give them credit for the second half successes.  You have to be fair.  I'll have a post up in the next day or two about this very thing and let me just say that it will be good for everyone to read it.
  • The slow starts are still a MAJOR concern.  In the past three games combined, the Colts have been outscored 66-9 in the first half.  Going 2-1 with those types of starts is really incredible, honestly.  But that can't continue, and the Colts absolutely must start faster.
  • Take a bow, Pep Hamilton.  His first half wasn't great, but it was better than the past few weeks.  His second half was tremendous.  Overall, it was one of the best called games of the year for Hamilton.  One of my favorite play calls tonight (and I actually had quite a few I really liked): the decision to give the handoff to Stanley Havili on a fullback dive on 3rd and 1 when everyone (and I mean everyone) thought the ball was going to Trent Richardson.  Some people were talking about how Richardson was just wasted being a decoy there, but the fact is that Hamilton called a play he thought would work best, and it did.  Why get upset about that?  Seriously.
  • Speaking of Trent Richardson... he wasn't good tonight.  Again.  He carried the ball 8 times for just 22 yards, averaging 2.8 yards per carry.  You can't really blame tonight's failures on the offensive line - there were holes there.  Richardson just didn't show the quickness in decision making to cut and I have to place the blame for Richardson's running failures for this game as much on his shoulders as I have for any other game this year.
  • One of the biggest things that makes Richardson look even worse was the play of Donald Brown tonight.  Brown was GREAT.  He carried the ball 14 times for 80 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns.  He is having a great season and this was his best performance of the year.  Brown was absolutely great tonight and he was flat out better than Richardson - again.  The most obvious example of this was on his second touchdown rush, where there was a small hole and Brown made a quick decision and a sharp cut up field and scored.  That's just something we haven't seen Richardson doing.
  • Brown seemed to take a lot more snaps from Richardson as the game went on.  The same was true of LaVon Brazill over Darrius Heyward-Bey.  We'll have to see what the exact numbers were, but it sure seemed that way.  It worked, and it will be interesting to see if that continues going forward.  It worked out very well tonight.
  • Coby Fleener was tremendous tonight as well.  He was great.  He caught 8 passes for 107 yards, averaging 13.4 yards per catch.  He is having a very good season and especially since Reggie Wayne was injured, he seems to have developed into Andrew Luck's "security blanket" so to speak and has a big role in the offense.  So far, he has stepped up.  Tonight, he had the first 100+ yard receiving game by a Colts tight end since Jacob Tamme in 2010.
  • In the second half tonight, not only did the Colts play by far their best half without Reggie Wayne but they also had one of their best halves of the season period.  They were great.
  • What a play, Andrew Luck.  I love it!  Shortly after recovering a Titans' fumble on a kickoff, Luck and the Colts offense were at the Titans 11 yard line down 17-13.  Luck had a pump fake on a bubble screen pass and pulled it back in as the defensive lineman leaped in the air looking to bat it down.  Luck instead tucked the ball and took off running and ran it in from 11 yards out.  It was a great play.  Luck played a good game overall, too, and this week he once again brought the Colts back from behind after last week he was part of the problem.
  • At 40 years old and as the oldest player in the NFL, Adam Vinatieri might be enjoying his best season ever.  Tonight he hit all 3 of his field goal attempts, including from 50 yards out.  On the season, he is 4-for-6 from over 50 yards, tying his career high in a season in 50+ yard field goals made.  As a whole this season, he is 20-for-23 kicking field goals.  I can't tell you how impressive he has been this year.
  • Erik Walden, you are an idiot.  At one point in the first half he grabbed the facemask of a Titans' offensive player and ripped his helmet right off.  He then proceeded to headbutt the Titans player (who, mind you, was without a helmet) in the head.  He should absolutely have been ejected. For sure he needs to be disciplined this week.  That was unacceptable and embarrassing.
  • On the first two drives the Colts defensive line was completely outplayed and constantly pushed off their blocks, but from then on the line (like the rest of the defense) played well, especially Ricky Jean Francois and Aubrayo Franklin.  Both of them had good games tonight.
  • Nice job covering the football on the onside kick at the end of the game, Pat Angerer.  And another nice game tonight, Pat Angerer.  He is healthy and playing very well now, tonight leading the Colts in tackles with 9 (1 for loss).
  • The Colts are 7-3 and hold a 3 game lead in the AFC South - with a 3-0 record in the division, all on the road.  It's not "officially official" yet, but the Colts are in the perfect place to win the AFC South.  It's almost a done deal at this point.
  • GAME BALL(S): Donald Brown (14-80-2 rushing; 1-14-0 receiving) and Coby Fleener (8-107-0 receiving)