JOE BIDDLE: Colts overtime play sinks Titans ship - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Colts overtime play sinks Titans ship

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

It's bizarre how NFL teams win, or lose, games.

The Titans led most of the way in Sunday's game against the Colts. It was a game of two teams trying to steady the ship.

When a game gets as close to the vest as it was at LP Field, the coaches are seeking ways to make a difference.

When the Colts got the game to overtime and won the coin toss, they were thinking touchdown when interim head coach Bruce Arians saw them facing second-and-10 from the Titans 16-yard-line.

Arians remembered a play he had seen while watching a college football game about three years ago on TV.

Arians liked a play from that game and filed it away for a rainy day.

He doesn't recall what teams were playing, or which team he borrowed the play from.

It wasn't even in the Colts playbook. Until last Tuesday.

"I thought, I'm going to put this play in and see what it looks like,'' Arians said after the Colts secured a 19-13 overtime victory at LP Field. "Every time we ran it in practice it looked just like that. So we called it.''

Arians called "Fake-toss-39-taxi-naked-right, screen- left.''

"You play the game to win, and we're not about to kick to take the win,'' Arians said. "We were going to take the ball from the giddy-up and take it down the field.''

Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck hit running back Vick Ballard with a short screen pass to the left and Ballard did the rest. He went airborne from the five-yard-line as a couple of Titans defenders closed in on him.

Ballard hit the front left pylon in the end zone as the Titans tried in vain to keep him out. It was the rookie running back from Mississippi State's first game-winning touchdown.

"I had to get it. The game was on the line,'' Ballard said. "The only way I could get in from the five was to jump, and that's what I did.''

Still, Ballard and the Colts had to wait for the play to be reviewed.

It showed Ballard broke the plane, sending a partisan Titans crowd home with their team dropping to 3-5 at the halfway point in the regular season and breaking a two-game winning streak.

Titans Coach Mike Munchak knew his team left too may plays and mistakes on the field.

He has been around the NFL long enough to know 13 points don't win many games in this era.

"There are a lot of things that could have turned the game in a lot of ways,'' Munchak noted. "That's what is upsetting. We had a lot of opportunities to do that, and we didn't do it.

"They did and that's why they won.''

While the Colts made the play that proved to be the game winner, the Titans will be kicking themselves for losing to an AFC South rival that won only two games a year ago.

There was frustration in every corner of the Titans locker room. Many of the players fled the scene in fire drill fashion.

"It is definitely frustrating,'' said veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. "I am still a little stunned and shocked – still don't see how we lost the game. I am still at a loss about that, but we let them hang around.''

Any time you allow an NFL team to hang around, you are playing with fire. And it came back to burn the Titans.

"I thought we did a good job on third downs in the first half,'' Hasselbeck said. "We weren't as crisp in the second and we need to do a better job.''

It remains to be seen who the Titans quarterback will be Sunday when the Chicago Bears and former Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler visit LP Field.

Munchak was noncommittal after the loss to the Colts. But he is sticking with his plan to put second-year pro Jake Locker under center when he gets a green light from the team physicians.

"He'll be re-examined again this week and we'll kind of see where he is at and have to make that decision,'' Munchak said.

There is no guarantee Locker will turn the season around for the Titans. Their designated playmakers are not making the plays they need to win a close game like this. They had three offensive pass interference penalties on them, two of them on Kenny Britt.

You have to make plays and you have to call plays.

Sunday, the Colts had the right play called at the right time.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com

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