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Tennessee Titans (7-6) at Indianapolis Colts (0-13)
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Titans (7-6) begin a three-game stretch against teams from the AFC South this week, as they travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts (0-13). Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium (capacity 63,000) is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, December 18th.
This will be the second of two yearly meetings between the Titans and Colts. In the first matchup at LP Field on October 30th, the Titans turned a pair of interceptions into two touchdowns by Nate Washington en route to a 27-10 victory. Tennessee’s other touchdown came after Patrick Bailey blocked a Colts punt and Jason McCourty recovered the ball in the end zone.
Despite their loss last week against the New Orleans Saints, the Titans remain in the playoff chase with three games remaining on the schedule. The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South Championship with their win last week at Cincinnati, but the Titans are still alive in the Wild Card hunt.
Aside from the Texans, the AFC’s current division leaders include the New England Patriots (10-3) in the East, the Baltimore Ravens (10-3) in the North and the Denver Broncos (8-5) in the West. Among the Wild Card hopefuls are the Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), New York Jets (8-5), Bengals (7-6) and Oakland Raiders (7-6). Four division winners and two Wild Card teams advance from each conference.
This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties, while Dan Fouts provides analysis. The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and gameday host Larry Stone.
The game can be heard locally on 1400 AM, WJZM.
The Titans nearly pulled off a dramatic comeback last week, but the Saints held on for a 22-17 victory at LP Field. After starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck left the contest early in the second quarter with a calf injury, Jake Locker was forced into action and responded with one of the biggest days in franchise history by a rookie quarterback.
Locker totaled 282 passing yards—the second-highest rookie total in franchise annals behind Jacky Lee’s 331 yards in 1960 (November 25th at Boston). In the second half, he scored his first career rushing touchdown and added a 40-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington. However, on the final play of the game, he was sacked inside the New Orleans 10-yard line as time expired.
Washington led the team with six receptions for a career-high 130 yards. He also reached a new personal benchmark with 798 receiving yards on the season.
On the other sideline, quarterback Drew Brees passed for 337 yards and a pair of second half touchdowns to wide receiver Marques Colston.
Meanwhile, the Colts enter Week 15 still looking for their first win in 2011. They traveled last week to Baltimore, where they fell by a final score of 24-10.
Head coach Jim Caldwell’s squad was dealt a significant blow prior to the season when it was learned quarterback Peyton Manning would be out indefinitely with a neck injury. He has been inactive in all 13 of the Colts’ games this season.
In Manning’s absence, the Colts have used three different starting quarterbacks—Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and most recently Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky, in his seventh NFL season out of Connecticut, has started each of the last two contests, totaling 489 passing yards and three touchdowns in those games.
Titans-Colts Series At A Glance
What To Look For This Week
K Rob Bironas (92 points) needs eight points for his fifth consecutive 100-point season.
QB Matt Hasselbeck can record the 24th 300-yard passing game of his career.
QB Matt Hasselbeck needs 299 passing yards to give him his eighth career 3,000-yard passing season.
RB Chris Johnson can record the 29th 100-yard rushing game of his career and his fifth 100-yard game of 2011. He has reached the mark in three of the last five games.
RB Chris Johnson needs 125 rushing yards for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. He would be the third player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Eddie George (five seasons from 1996-00) and Earl Campbell (four from 1978-81).
RB Chris Johnson (45 receptions) needs five receptions to tie his career high for receptions in a season (50 in 2009).
T Michael Roos is scheduled to make his 110th consecutive start.
G Jake Scott is scheduled to make his 118th consecutive start.
WR Nate Washington can extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 60 (46 games with the Titans).
Titans-Colts Series History
This week’s game will mark the 35th all-time meeting betweent he Titans and Colts. The Colts lead the series 20-14.
Earlier this season, the Titans ended a long losing streak to the Indianapolis Colts.
From 2006 to 2008, the Titans went on a run of three wins in four contests against the Colts, but starting with the 2008 regular season finale, the Colts took five consecutive games.
Then, on October 30th, the Colts visited LP Field, where the Titans recorded two interceptions by the defense and two touchdowns by wide receiver Nate Washington en route to a 27-10 victory.
The last time the clubs met at Lucas Oil Stadium was January 2nd in the 2010 season finale. A fumbled center-quarterback exchange by the Titans inside the game’s final two minutes led to Adam Vinatieri’s decisive 43-yard field goal that gave the Colts a 23-20 victory.
In 2002, the first year the Titans and Colts met as opponents in the newly-formed AFC South, the Titans won both games on their way to claiming the first AFC South title. The Colts then won seven consecutive meetings, taking both games in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons and the first meeting in 2006. Indianapolis claimed the division crown every year from 2003-06, until the Titans re-acquired it in 2008.
The Titans and Colts have met only once in the postseason, a 19-16 Titans victory in a Divisional Playoff game in the RCA Dome on January 16th, 1999. Eddie George rushed for 162 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run to help lead Tennessee during its run to Super Bowl XXXIV.
The teams first clashed in 1970 following the AFL-NFL merger. The then-Baltimore Colts defeated the then-Houston Oilers 24-20 during the Colts’ run to a Super Bowl V Championship.
Titans-Colts: The Last Meeting
Indianapolis Colts 10 at Tennessee Titans 27
In Week 8, the Titans scored 20 unanswered points in the first half and held on for a 27-10 victory over the Colts at LP Field. The result improved the Titans’ record to 4-3 and kept the Colts winless in eight games.
Although the Colts outgained the Titans (399 total yards to 311) and had five more first downs than the Titans (22 to 17), the Titans took advantage of Colts penalties, miscues and turnovers. The Titans were penalized only three times—and not at all in the first half—while the Colts were penalized 10 times for 66 yards. Additionally, the Titans intercepted two passes by Colts quarterback Curtis Painter and turned both turnovers into touchdowns by wide receiver Nate Washington. Special teams also played a role, as the Titans scored one of their three touchdowns off of a blocked punt.
The Titans began the scoring on their first series of the game. They went 52 yards before Rob Bironas gave them a 3-0 lead with a 51-yard field goal.
The score remained 3-0 until 9:52 remained in the second quarter. With the Colts backed up, facing a fourth-and-19 from their own seven-yard line, Patrick Bailey dashed through the interior of the Colts line and blocked a Pat McAfee punt. Jason McCourty recovered in the end zone, giving the Titans a 10-0 lead.
Later in the second quarter, capping a 54-yard drive that featured a 26-yard catch by Damian Williams and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Colts, Bironas made a 50-yard field goal to put the Titans ahead 13-0.
On the subsequent Colts series, McCourty tipped a pass, and safety Michael Griffin caught the ball for an interception with 1:50 to play before halftime.
The Titans took over at their own 35. On third-and-six, Matt Hasselbeck found tight end Jared Cook for a 32-yard completion. Then, on first-and-goal, Washington caught a quick pass that was ruled a lateral and scored on a three-yard run.
The Colts finally got on the scoreboard early in the second half. On their first drive of the third quarter, they went 58 yards on 13 plays, and Adam Vinatieri made the score 20-3 with a 22-yard field goal.
The Colts further cut into the Titans’ lead early in the fourth quarter with their longest drive of the game. They went 80 yards on 11 plays and scored on a four-yard touchdown run by Donald Brown.
On the Colts’ next possession, however, the Titans swung the momentum back in their favor with another takeaway. Painter’s pass was batted at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Jason Jones, and middle linebacker Barrett Ruud collected the interception at the Indianapolis 38. Seven plays later, Hasselbeck and Washington connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
The Colts moved deep into Titans territory on their final two possessions of the game, but the Titans defense made fourth-down stops to end both drives.
Hasselbeck finished the contest with 23 completions, 224 yards and a touchdown on 33 attempts (98.5 passer rating). Running back Javon Ringer had 102 total yards. He led the team with 60 yards on 14 rushing attempts and also recorded a team-high five receptions for 42 yards.
Last Week vs. New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints 22 at Tennessee Titans 17
Drew Brees completed two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to wide receiver Marques Colston, and the Saints withstood a late threat by the Titans and rookie quarterback Jake Locker to win 22-17 at LP Field.
Locker, who was called upon after starter Matt Hasselbeck left the game with a calf injury, passed for 282 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score. He nearly completed an improbable late comeback, driving the Titans to the New Orleans five-yard line with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
However, on a third-down play that began with five seconds on the clock, Locker scanned the field and rolled right, only to be sacked by Saints linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
The sack ended a game that began as a defensive struggle before the teams combined for four total touchdowns in the game’s final 18 minutes. Throughout, Brees and the Saints controlled most of the action, going 11-of-19 (58 percent) on third down and holding the ball for over 37 minutes. Comparatively, the Titans converted one third down in 10 attempts and possessed the ball for less than 23 minutes.
Brees recorded 36 completions—tied for the third-highest number allowed by the Titans in franchise history—and 337 yards on 47 pass attempts, but the New Orleans running game was efficient as well. Their opening drive of the game yielded 51 of their 114 total rushing yards and led to a 25-yard field goal by John Kasay.
With 11 minutes to play in the second quarter and the Titans still trailing 3-0, Hasselbeck was forced out of action, and Locker entered. On his second series, he completed a 31-yard pass to tight end Craig Stevens to set up a 43-yard field goal by Rob Bironas to tie the score.
Kasay made a 29-yard field goal to break the tie with 15 seconds remaining in the first half, and he added a 22-yarder in the third quarter to cap a 15-play, 86-yard drive that took eight minutes.
The Titans later faced a third-and-10 at their own 34-yard line, when wide receiver Damian Williams caught a short pass from Locker, eluded a Saints defender and gained a total of 54 yards. A facemask penalty on Saints safety Roman Harper was added to the play, and on the next snap, Locker rolled right and dove across the goal line for a six-yard touchdown run and a 10-9 lead.
But the Titans’ lead did not last long, as the Saints would reach the end zone for the first time two minutes into the fourth quarter. On third-and-six from the Tennessee 35-yard line, Brees found Colston down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
On their next possession. Brees and Colston connected again, this time for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Ahead 22-10 with 7:01 on the clock, the Saints elected to try for a two-point conversion, but running back Pierre Thomas was stopped short of the goal line.
Locker then led the Titans quickly down the field. He scrambled for a 17-yard gain and then completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nate Washington to pull the Titans to within five points.
Although they had two chances to take the lead, the Titans could not finish the comeback. First, on a fourth-and-one at the New Orleans 24, Locker was stopped short on a quarterback sneak. Finally, a 25-yard pass from Locker to Lavelle Hawkins and a 40-yard completion to Washington set up the final set of downs from the five-yard line, but Dunbar’s sack sealed the victory for the Saints.
Topics104-5 The Zone, Adam Vinatieri, AFC South, Baltimore Ravens, Barrett Ruud, CBS, Chris Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, Cody Allison, Craig Stevens., Damian Williams, Dan Fouts, Denver Broncos, Donald Brown, Drew Brees, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, Frank Wycheck, Houston Texans, Ian Eagle, Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis IN, Jacky Lee, Jake Locker, Jake Scott, Jared Cook, Jason Jones, Jason McCourty, Javon Ringer, Jim Caldwell, Kerry Collins, Larry Stone, Lavelle Hawkins, LP field, Lucas Oil Stadium, Marques Colston, Matt hasselbeck, Michael Griffin, Michael Roos, Mike Keith, Mike Munchak, Nashville TN, Nate Washington, National Football League, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Pat McAfee, Patrick Bailey, Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans, Titans, Touchdown, WJZM 1400 AM, WTVF NewsChannel 5
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