It took a quarterback playing on one leg, five field goals and a defense that awoke in the second half, but the streak is over.
The Tennessee Titans rallied from 10 points down to defeat the Indianapolis Colts, 36-22, Monday night to even their season record at 3-3 and finally end an 11-game losing streak to the Colts.
In doing so, the Titans got a 306-yard passing performance from quarterback Marcus Mariota, whose mobility was limited with a hamstring injury, but whose arm was sharp enough to complete 23 of 32 throws with a touchdown.
It also took five field goals from Ryan Succop, who set an NFL record and then extended it by now making 51 consecutive field goals inside of 50 yards.
The Titans defense also came alive in the second half, allowing the Colts just 115 yards after halftime.
“They had won 11 straight. We can finally move on. It’s a whole new era with this Titans team, and that’s something I’m very proud of,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
For awhile, it appeared that Succop with his five field goals would provide all the Titans offense. He made three field goals in the first half for Tennessee, with the first one being the record-breaker.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m so humbled, and I feel so blessed. It’s certainly something you can never really imagine, and sometimes God just does more than we could ever imagine,” Succop said of the record. “I’m so blessed to work with a lot of great guys. Beau (Brinkley) and Brett (Kern), they do such a great job snapping and holding. And the guys up front blocking for me, keeping them off me. I feel very fortunate and it’s a very humbling honor.”
It was also something the Titans desperately need as Succop kicked the final two of his five field goals after Colts linebacker John Simon had given Indianapolis a 19-9 lead with a 26-yard interception return in the third quarter.
Succop’s kicks kept the Titans in it at 19-15 until the offense could find the end zone.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Titans found the end zone – three times in fact to put the game away.
First, there was DeMarco Murray, with his own hamstring injury resurfacing at times in the game, finishing off a 15-play, 87-yard march that gave Tennessee the lead, 22-19, with a 3-yard TD run.
After Adam Vinatieri’s field goal from 52 yards tied the game at 22-all, the Titans answered again – this time with a big play, as Mariota hit Taywan Taylor with a 53-yard touchdown to give Tennessee the lead for good.
“Everybody did a good job executing and I just tried to do a good job of finishing off the play and making the catch,” Taylor said.
For Mariota, who was relegated to staying in the pocket, save for one quarterback sneak for a first down and one scramble out of trouble that ended with him sliding for a 1-yard loss, it was as much about just being back out there at quarterback as much as anything.
“That’s part of it. It’s a long season, you are going to have to play with some kind of nick or ding,”Mariota said. :I am just really happy for the guys. They did a great job of holding up in protection up front. Our receivers made a bunch of huge plays, just happy we were able to run the football and make some plays.”
While Mariota and Succop were center stage a good bit of the night, it was the Titans defense, which had been sliced and diced for much of the game, that came up big late. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who has been one of the team’s most consistent performers this season, came up with a fourth-down stop of Colts QB Jacoby Brissett on a naked bootleg off play-action.
“This 31-year-old has still got a little wheels,” Woodyard said. “You have to make a play to get our team of the field, and lucky for me, I was blessed to be the one to make it.”
Woodyard knocked Brissett out of bounds, and after a Colts challenge, the Titans took back the football to salt the game away with 2:26 to play.
But it was Henry, who put that salt in the Colts’ wound by breaking off a 72-yard run in the final seconds to pad the Tennessee lead and push himself to 131 yards rushing, the first 100-yard game of his young NFL career.
“My goal was to get a first down. We knew they were out of timeouts, so if we get the first down, that ends the game. But when I got past the safety, I saw grass, and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to go for it,’” Henry said.
When the game was over, an the skid had ended, the focus for the Titans wasn’t so much on overcoming the Colts as much as it was the gutsy effort of their quarterback.
“Credit Marcus. He’s a tough guy,” Henry said. “To come out there at not even 100 percent, to come out here and play and lead us to a win against a good division opponent. All credit goes to him. That shows what type of leader he is, what type of guy he is and how great he is.”
Added tight end Delanie Walker, “That’s Marcus Mariota. If he can play, he’s going to play. He is the leader of this team and today he showed it by coming out there and playing,” said tight end Delanie Walker.”