The first Titans offensive drive was highlighted by the fact that Delanie Walker can abuse the middle of the field. Mariota’s weaknesses as a pocket passer were on display and there was a hold that went uncalled against Nate Hairston. The Colts defense forced the Titans to settle for a field goal. Titans led 0-3.
The first Colts offensive drive is highlighted by getting things going on the ground with Frank Gore and Marlon Mack. Additionally, we got Frank Gore involved in the passing game and abused 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 to throw away a good stop which 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 6-3.
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.
There was 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, then 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 kept the lead 10-9.
On the third Colts drive, 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 completed 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.
The first drive on the second half started with a nice run by Frank Gore but a miss on a throw down the seam to Kamar Aiken was followed-up by a risky throw to T.Y. Hilton that was nearly picked off. A nice punt by Rigoberto Sanchez had the Titans pinned close to their ten yard line but the punt returner made a late decision to play the ball off of the bounce and get a return back to the about the 20-yard line.
On the very next play, John Simon made a great defensive play to intercept a Mariota pass at the line of scrimmage and return it for a touchdown. The most impressive part of the return is that while it was only 20 yards, DeMarco Murray was all over Simon and couldn’t run him down. This fantastic play was dampened when Adam Vinatieri missed the extra-point. Nonetheless, the Colts lead grew to 19-9.
After the Colts defense makes a great play to stuff a run and force a third and long, the “coverage” unit gave up a pass and a roughing the passer penalty gave the Titans offense some momentum. Then a clear hands to the face penalty and/or hold on Sheard goes uncalled and DeMarco Murray escapes for a first down. A fantastic play by Rashaan Melvin to breakup a pass intended for Eric Decker and forced Tennessee to put Succop back out for a 48-yard field goal, bringing the game score to 12-19 Colts.
Then, in a clear situation where the right call is to take the knee on the kickoff, Quan Bray runs out and stumbles to give Indianapolis a long field starting at their own 12. Surprisingly, the Colts bring Marlon Mack out for a dump-off outside to get him into space and he drops the pass.
Frank Gore rushes for 5-yards to give the Colts a third-and-5 opportunity to keep the drive moving and Robert Turbin checks back into the game. A nice pass to Jack Doyle is nearly caught but the defender got his hand in to knock the ball away. Rigoberto Sanchez had to get as much of the field position Quan Bray lost by running out the kick back and help the defense have some space.
The defense did a nice job of stopping Derrick Henry on a run to setup 2nd down and 4 yards. Mariota felt pressure from Margus Hunt and had to throw the ball away. Finally, another attempt to throw toward Rashaan Melvin in coverage resulted in a batted pass and forced the Titans to punt the ball back to the Colts 10 yard line.
On the next drive, Jack Doyle gave up another fumble after hauling in a catch the gave Tennessee a short field. That mistake put the Titans in the driver’s seat and allowed them to put their foot on the pedal against a stunned Colts team.
The first pass is completed to Rishard Matthews who nearly runs the catch in for a touchdown. On first and goal, Derrick Henry ran left for a yard. A “jet sweep” to Delanie Walker was stopped short and pushed Tennessee back to the 5. They followed that play up by missing Walker in the back of the end zone and were forced to again settle for a Ryan Succop field goal. The Colts lead was cut to 4, 15-19.
You have to wonder why Tennessee didn’t pound the ball in with Derrick Henry in that situation.
In what has become a completely predictable second half set of circumstances for the Colts, the offense looked completely lost on their next drive. Brissett was under significant pressure and nothing resembling the first half offense returned to the field for the first 12 minutes of the third quarter. Luckily, a good punt from Sanchez was rewarded by a Titans penalty on the return team that pinned the Titans back at their own 13 yard line.
Despite great pressure from Simon, Mariota completed a pass to Eric Decker on first down for over 20 yards. Having apparently found his favorite target, he went back to Decker for another 7 yards.
After a DeMarco Murray run led to another first down, Mariota missed on a deep shot and the Titans finally got called for holding. A screen pass to Murray gained some of the yards back to setup a second and 15, when Tennessee chose to go back to the tight end in the middle of the field for 10 yards to setup 3rd and a manageable 5. A short pass to Eric Decker was stopped one yard before the marker by rookie nickel corner Nate Hairston. Marcus Mariota ran a sneak up the middle for the first down.
It is at this time the Titans decided to try a deep attack that fails due to good coverage and Mariota had to slide down the line of scrimmage. A shovel pass to Delanie Walker didn’t fool John Simon and set up a 3rd and 12. Despite the good early down defense, a rare breakdown in coverage from Rashaan Melvin allowed Rishard Matthews to make a first down grab on the right sideline. A dump-off to Derrick Henry after the Colts failed to put pressure on Mariota resulted in a consecutive first down.
Heading into the red zone the Titans chose to punch DeMarco Murray up the middle for a five-yard gain. They repeated their last play with Murray up the middle to push them to 3rd and 1. Another run to Murray pushed Tennessee to first and goal from the three yard line. Finally, they decided to not change the game plan and ran for a final time for a touchdown. Tennessee takes the lead 19-22.
On the ensuing kickoff, Quan Bray finally got something going in the return game to give Indianapolis great field position. Only about 15-20 yards would put them in field goal range to tie and a touchdown could put them back in the lead.
A scramble by Brissett with no one open gained three yards. Then Brissett threw a dart to Moncrief to get a first down at the 24 yard line. A rush up the middle by Gore gained only one yard — another second half commonality early this season. Brissett follows that up with another big mistake to add to his second half resume with an intentional grounding resulting in a 3rd and 20 at the 34 yard line. An incomplete pass to Jack Doyle set up Vinatieri for a 52-yard field goal that tied the game at 22.
The Titans started their next offensive drive with Derrick Henry gaining one yard up the middle. On second down, Mariota went back to Decker for a first down to his left. Another consecutive first down play to Decker who crossed through the middle of the field while the Colts pass rush couldn’t get Mariota off of his spot. The next play was a deep dagger to Taywan Taylor who burned rookie safety Malik Hooker and teaches him that playing “center fielder” means not allowing a free running receiver to beat you for a touchdown. Titans lead grows to 7 for the first time, 22-29.
In the most important drive for Jacoby Brissett and the Colts, the team is rewarded by a personal foul for unnecessary roughness. Then Rob Chudzinski telegraphs a run up the middle to Robert Turbin that is stopped for a three yard loss. On the next play Brissett stays strong in the face of pressure to complete a dump-off to Turbin for a first down. The Colts rush Turbin up the middle to try to slow down the Titans blitz but only gains one yard. On the next play the Brissett completed another pass to Donte Moncrief for a big first down that goes down to the 22 yard line.
As the Colts entered the red zone, Brissett threw a quick out to Marlon Mack lined up as a receiver that was well over his head. His next pass was to Jack Doyle and while he nearly made a catch but it looked like he didn’t control the ball long enough to be a fumble and a back-breaking turnover for the Colts offense. After review, the play was ruled an incomplete pass but put the Colts offense in a difficult 3rd and 10 position that is not ideal for a mistake prone Jacoby Brissett.
On the next play, Robert Turbin made a nice catch on a dump-off and fought hard for a first down but came up just short. It looked like he suffered a nasty injury to his arm that resulted in him leaving the field. This forced the Colts to get a first own without their short-yardage back and run Frank Gore to keep their hopes alive. Jacoby Brissett rolled out to try to pick up the first down to the right but was stopped short and gave the Titans the ball back. A failed challenge took away a valuable timeout for Indianapolis and forced them to use the two-minute warning and their two remaining timeouts that required a three-and-out or a turnover to get another chance to put point on the board.
Of course, this put the Titans in a position to simply run the football and force the Colts defense to stop them from getting first downs in order to get another shot at the game. The Colts defense sold out to stop the first down, which always makes you vulnerable to a big play on the back-end. That is how the Titans end it with Derrick Henry rushing for a 72-yard touchdown. Succop put in his extra point opportunity for the final score:
Colts 22 - Titans 36