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Colts 2016 season in review: Week seven win over the Titans

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our look back at the 2016 season for the Indianapolis Colts, we’re taking a look at each game the team played this season. We know that won’t be the most fun experience for Colts fans, but we’re taking a look back at each game within the context of the entire season. Today we continue the series with the week seven win over the Titans:

What Happened:

The Colts entered their week seven game against the Titans at just 2-4 and 0-2 against the AFC South, desperately needing a win against the Titans to try to stay alive in the division race. The Titans got the scoring started with a touchdown, but they missed the extra point. Andrew Luck then hit Frank Gore for a three-yard score to give the Colts the 7-6 lead, and then a 37-yard scoring hookup between Luck and Hilton in the second quarter plus an Adam Vinatieri 28-yard field goal added to the Colts’ lead to make it 17-6. The Titans would score right before halftime, however, to head into the break trailing 17-13. The Colts tacked on a field goal in the third quarter, but the start of the fourth quarter belonged to the Titans. They scored a touchdown to tie the game up at 20, and then a field goal gave them the 23-20 lead midway through the quarter. Then, just like he did so often in 2016, Andrew Luck led the Colts downfield for a critical fourth quarter drive, and as the two minute warning hit Luck hit Jack Doyle for a seven-yard, go-ahead touchdown. The Colts cemented the game on the very next offensive play of the game, as T.Y. McGill strip-sacked Marcus Mariota while Robert Mathis picked it up and returned it 14 yards for a score to make it 34-23. The Titans would add a field goal, but they lost 34-26. The Colts picked up their first division win of the year and improved to 3-4 on the season.

What We Said at the Time:

The Colts now improve to 3-4 on the year, which is the same record the Titans now have. Indianapolis is alive in the AFC South still, but this game made it clear once again: this team is centered around Andrew Luck and the offense, and they’re totally dependent upon him. On days like today, that’s enough for a win in a key game.

What We’re Saying Now:

This was one of those wins in which the Colts’ offense and Andrew Luck led the way (which, yes, happens a lot). Luck was brilliant in the game, completing 27 of 39 passes for 353 yards and three scores without a pick, while T.Y. Hilton (7 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown) and Jack Doyle (9 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown) led the way in receiving. Though the defense was not particularly great on this day (which, yes, happens a lot), the Colts were good enough to win a key road divisional game. Looking back on this game, it was a must-win for the team as they kept their AFC South hopes alive. Dropping their first three divisional games while falling to 2-5 would have essentially ended the Colts’ hopes of winning the AFC South, so it’s a good thing that they were able to pull it out. Ultimately, it didn’t provide the spark in turning their season around, but it was a much-needed win at the time - especially after dropping the game against the Texans the week before in crushing fashion. To be able to stabilize things - at least for one week - after that loss was encouraging, but the win didn’t wind up saving the Colts season after all.