The first Titans drive was highlighted by the fact that Delanie Walker can abuse the middle of the field. Mariota’s weaknesses as a pocket passer, and a hold that went uncalled against Nate Hairston, force the Titans to settle for a field goal. Titans lead 0-3.
The Colts first offensive drive is highlighted by getting things going on the ground with Frank Gore and Marlon Mack. Additionally, getting Frank Gore involved in the passing game, abusing Tennessee’s inside linebacker Woodyard. Unfortunately, Donte Moncrief missed out on his chance to give the Colts a lead by dropping a perfect pass from Jacoby Brissett. Adam Vinatieri did what he does to tie the game at 3.
When the Colts defense had a chance to get a great stop on third down, with impressive pressure up the middle and a would-be sack, Darius Butler was called for defensive holding away from the play. In typical fashion, when a penalty occurs in a situation like that it almost always results in a long drive. Teams are too good in the NFL to throw away a good stop and give coaches and professional football players second chances. The defense stiffened up in the red zone, led by an impressive pass breakup by rookie safety Malik Hooker, and forced Ryan Succop to continue his dual with Adam Vinatieri to put the Titans up 3-6.
The second Colts offensive drive was actually one of the more impressive drives this season. It featured running from Frank Gore, good blocking from the offensive line, and Jacoby Brissett standing tall in the pocket and completing passes for first downs. Nearly every facet of the Colts offense was on display.
A long pass to T.Y. Hilton, then a dump-off to tight end Jack Doyle. Brissett ran an option play that gained 7 yards, completed a pass to Moncrief for a first down, and then hit Jack Doyle on a gulp great play-design for a touchdown to take the lead 10-6.
A fantastic kick on the kickoff following the touchdown by Rigoberto Sanchez was matched by fantastic coverage. This pinned the Titans back at their own six-yard line and gave the Colts defense a great opportunity with Mariota in awful field position. Another defensive communication breakdown in coverage allows DeMarco Murray to make an important first down and that was all the Titans needed to unleash another pass and abuse a secondary still looking to find its way.
A steady dose of Derrick Henry running to the outside kept the second half of the drive going. Henry hits tacklers hard and falls forward for extra yards. On third-and-three Matthias Farley displayed outstanding hustle to stop Henry short of the first down and force Tennessee to make a tough decision in field goal range but with a chance to keep a drive going for a touchdown. The result is another field goal for Ryan Succop and the Colts keep the lead 10-9.
On the Colts third drive of the game, Indianapolis started a methodical drive that included Gore running the football, Kamar Aiken making another catch, and Robert Turbin escaping into the second level keep the drive going on third and short. Then, after a rare first down Robert Turbin carry, Brissett completes a pass on a out to Donte Moncrief for a first down.
A screen pass to Turbin and an easy completion to Jack Doyle in the middle of the field pushed the Colts back into the red zone. Our old friend Erik Walden decided to take a cheap shot on Brissett that gave the Colts the ball on first and goal from the 7. Jacoby didn’t like what he saw on the play so escaped the pocket and scrambled for a yard. Sadly, Brissett then missed Jack Doyle early on in his dig route and threw the ball away on a corner route for T.Y. Hilton. The drive finished with another Adam Vinatieri field goal and gave the Colts a 13-9 lead heading into the half.