Everything was going fine for the Tennessee Titans early on, as Chris Johnson ran for two first quarter touchdowns. The ending, as most games are for teams playing against the Indianapolis Colts, wasn’t as satisfying for the home side, not scoring another touchdown until well into fourth quarter garbage time, losing 30-27 to their division rivals.
Andrew Luck didn’t throw a single touchdown pass, but he didn’t throw any interceptions either, and ran for 31 yards and a touchdown himself, while Donald Brown took on the role of acting star with 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while Adam Vinatieri completed the job with three field goals.
The Colts have been outscored 35-0 in the first quarter in their past three games, and have trailed after the first quarter in six games this season, but they’re still 7-3, looking like worthy rivals to the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.
At the end of the day, winning is what matters. We were fortunate in this game to survive our mistakes and have a chance to win. … But we know that’s got to be fixed.
Things are different for the Colts without Reggie Wayne. In the first 7 weeks this season, before he tore his ACL, Luck’s passing average was travelling 9.4 yards per pass. Since that injury, his average has dropped to 7 yards per pass, and he averaged 6 yards per pass against the Titans, the second lowest average of his career. The good thing for the Colts? They’re 5-1 over the last two years when Luck goes short, or less than 7.7 yards, which means a lot of play action, completing 6-of-7 passes for 91 yards in the win over the Titans. The Colts are 7-0 when Luck completes at least 6 play-action passes in his career.
Coby Fleener enjoyed more than anyone Luck going for the short passes. He caught 8 passes for 107 yards, and his usage rate and targeting has almost doubled since Reggie Wayne went down with an injury.
Donald Brown has also been thriving this season, especially since the arrival of Trent Richardson, who might not be putting up impressive numbers, averaging only 3 yards per carry and 2.8 in the win over the Titans, but is wearing down defenses and opening things up for players like Brown. Donald Brown is averaging 6.1 yards per carry since Richardson’s arrival in week 3, and his 51 yards on 10 second half carries were a season-high.
The Colts were still sorta shell shocked early on from their loss to the Rams, but one of the remarkable things about this team over the last couple of season is learning from their mistakes. They haven’t lost back-to-back games since Andrew Luck became the quarterback, and he is only the third quarterback since the merger not to lose back-to-back games in his first 26 starts. Part of the charm is Luck’s running ability, scoring nine touchdowns in his career so far, second in the NFL since entering the league.
Obviously, starting out like that is something we’re all too familiar with. That’s something we have to work on and get it corrected. We’re not worried about our record against the division. We’re worried about this next game.