Nov 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown (31) rushes against Tennessee Titans defensive end Ropati Pitoitua (92) during the second half at LP Field. Indianapolis won 30-27.
Photo by Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
(7-3) Colts 30 – Titans 27 (4-6)
The Colts are the NFL’s broken record. Each week it’s the same story.
They come out sluggish. The opponent gets ahead, by one, two, or sometimes even three touchdowns by halftime. But it’s nothing to be concerned about. Odds are Andrew Luck will take control and lead his team to a come-from-behind victory (unless they’re playing the St. Louis Rams). It’s a tale of two halves, a reenactment of Jekyll and Hyde.
Thursday night, the Colts used the same formula to get by the Tennessee Titans. Down 17-6 after 30 minutes of play, Luck spoke to his teammates in the locker room. He fired them up, encouraged them to fight hard. And fight they would, erasing an 11-point defect to outscore the Titans 24-10 to finish the game and get the victory.
The offensive line struggled. Darrius Heyward-Bey dropped passes and left the game early with an ankle injury. Trent Richardson couldn’t get going – again – and the Titans’ Chris Johnson ran through the defense like it was Swiss cheese. No matter, the Colts had Luck, who himself can and did change the outcome of the game. In the second half, Luck completed 11 of his 15 passes for 124 yards and did not get sacked. His completion percentage improved by 16% from the previous two quarters. Then he took over on the ground and rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown, better numbers than Richardson.
Donald Brown, though, was the MVP of the night. After living in the shadows of Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Trent Richardson for much of the season, Brown broke through and rushed for 80 yards on 14 touches and had two touchdowns. Tight end Coby Fleener also had a career night, catching eight passes for 107 yards, and kicker Adam Vinatieri made all three of his field goal attempts, including 48- and 50-yarders.
Ultimately, a win is a win, though the Colts would probably prefer not to do it in the risky manner they’re currently running. Reggie Wayne is still proving to be a huge loss, especially on third down, but it’s hard to criticize when the team is getting the job done.
Next week the Colts have an interesting matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, coached by former Colts offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians. The Colts will need to make improvements if they want to keep winning, but they are a virtual lock to win the AFC South and remain serious playoff contenders for their grit and character alone – and of course, Luck.