The first half of the Titans and Colts game featured some things that were very familiar to this point in the year and some that were not. The Colts defense continued to be very tough against the run in the first half. Al Woods and Johnathan Hankins were able to team up to shut down any hope the Titans had to get things going on the ground.
Predictably, the Titans attacked the middle of the field utilizing mismatches with large receiving options like Eric Decker and Delanie Walker on Nate Hairston and the Colts inside linebackers. This is where their offense was able to move the football and get into field goal range. Indy’s defense was able to stay tough in the red zone and not allow any back breaking big plays in the first half.
The Colts offense was not very creative for much of the first half. Its predictability yielded only 1 first down in the entire first quarter. Brissett was still taking hits and sacks due to poor offensive play-call design and his inability to get through progressions and get rid of the football.
What was different in the first half from previous weeks is that the Colts offense got things going early in the game and put the team in great position to win the game. This week there was very little production on offense and much more vanilla play-calling. There was some hope that maybe the offense was saving its scripted plays until the second half.
After trading field goal drives early, the Colts entered half time up 6-13.
The second half started much the way the first half ended. The Colts defense continued dominating the Titans offense and gave the offense the ball back with a chance to extend the lead. Brissett was able to drive down the field and get the ball into the red zone, settling for a field goal that put the Colts up 10 at 6-16.
On queue, after dominating the Titans for nearly three full quarters, a mistake on offense changed the complexion of the game. Brissett tossed the ball to Marlon Mack deep in Colts territory and the rookie was unable to bring the ball in cleanly. After he fumbled, he was unable to jump on the ball to retain possession and instead tried to scoop the ball up.
With the ball inside the Colts five yard line, the Titans were able to get the ball into the endzone on a short pass to Delanie Walker. Walker was covered on a drag route by Jon Bostic, leaving him well behind. The extra point brought Tennessee back to within 3 points. 13-16.
From this point on, the Colts offense generated a total of two first downs. Additionally, in the fourth quarter, the Colts defense stopped making containment on the edges a priority. The Titans chose to target the tackles and get the ball outside with Derrick Henry for much of the final quarter of play. In the most dominant Tennessee drive of the game, they ran for 53 yards on 6 carries, including a one-yard touchdown for Demarco Murray. This pushed the Titans ahead 20-16.
On Tennessee’s final offense drive of the game, they ran the ball 42 yards on five carries. This is while everyone in the building knew they would try to run the ball and keep the clock moving. Once again, the outside linebackers and defensive line were unable to contain on the edges and allowed numerous runs to bounce outside. This includes a play where a horse-collar tackle by Antonio Morrison resulted in a big penalty to give Tennessee a first down.
Another late game collapse on both sides of the ball resulted in a Titans 20-16 final score and push Indianapolis to a 3-8 record.