The Tennessee Titans dinked and dunked their way to defeat Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Titans fell short, 19-17, against the old nemesis the Indianapolis Colts by struggling to get chunk plays offensively, playing miserably on third down and not being able to make key plays in the fourth quarter on either side of the ball to win it.
On a day when the Titans retired the numbers of Steve McNair and Eddie George, it was the Titans’ lack of productive numbers that doomed them against the AFC South rival.
Tennessee’s defense played well for the most part, but then gave up the decisive touchdown when Jordan Wilkins ran 55 yards to the 4, and Jacoby Brissett found T.Y. Hilton from there for the go-ahead and eventual winning score.
But back to the offense, quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 19 of 28 passes for a touchdown – to David Quessenberry on a tackle eligible play – but had just 154 yards on the day. The Titans had just one play that went for more than 20 yards – a 25-yard catch and run by Corey Davis that set up Tennessee’s final touchdown.
“You’ve got to give them credit. They played a little deeper and rallied to the ball,” Mariota said. “Sometimes taking what they give you and hopefully keeping the momentum going is what’s going to sustain drives, and that’s how we scored two of our touchdowns, but it’s hard to do that over and over again. We’ve got to find ways to make explosives. We’ll take a look at it and see what we can learn from it.”
Once again, Davis and Adam Humphries were not major factors in the passing game, outside of Davis’ one aforementioned gain. He had three catches for 38 yards, while Humphries had two for minus-1 yards
Sunday’s game did not lack for opportunities for the Titans to defeat the Colts, who now have 19 wins in their past 22 games against Tennessee.
The Titans trailed 13-7 at halftime, and quickly took the lead, scoring on Derrick Henry’s 1-yard run on their first offensive series of the second half. Henry finished the day with 81 yards, but had just 15 carries in the game.
After Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett fumbled, and Harold Landry recovered, Tennessee had a chance to take command. But the Titans wound up settling for Cairo Santos’ 49-yard field goal after failing to get a first down.
In the fourth quarter, the Titans drove down to the Indy 20, but Mariota was sacked on third down, and Santos missed a 45-yard try that would have given the Titans a seven-point lead with 10:31 to play.
“I was trying to make a play and give our guys a little extra time. They had a spy and he came up and hugged and made a play. In that situation, getting the ball out and not taking a sack would have obviously been better,” Mariota said.
After trading punts, the Colts got the break they were looking for on Wilkins’ run that set up Hilton’s TD catch.
After that, the Titans never threatened again, despite two more possessions in the final 4:38 of the game. One series ended when receiver Tajae Sharpe took a step backwards and lost what appeared to be a first-down catch. The Titans punted on fourth-and-a-half yard.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t a first down. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing,” Sharpe said.
Finally, with 1:18 to play, Tennessee had one last-ditch chance to get downfield to pull the game out. But a fourth-down pass skipped off receiver A.J. Brown’s hands and fell incomplete, handing Indy the victory.
“I’ve got to make that catch,” a disappointed Brown said after the game.
There was plenty of blame to go around though for the Titans, who fall to 1-1 and into a three-way tie in the AFC South.
The Titans were 1 of 10 on third down, while the Colts converted 7 of 10 chances there.
“The biggest thing we talked about was winning the fourth quarter,” Titans defensive Jurrell Casey said. “And we didn’t do that today.”