A decisive win by the Titans who flipped the script on the Colts in Indy 45-26 to take over first in the AFC South.
1. “Special” Teams – The Titans have cleaned up their special teams the last two weeks and instead of helping them lose they’ve helped them win both games. Stephen Gostkowski has been perfect and the return of Brett Kern had a settling effect on the punt team. Oh and Kern is good.
2. The Big Decision – Up 28-14 with less than a minute left in the half Mike Vrabel had the punt team on the field facing a 4th and 4. My immediate reaction was from the Colts 38 they had to go for it, they had a chance to deliver a decisive blow before the half. Vrabel called timeout and sent the offense back out. Ryan Tannehill delivered a 37 yard pass to the 1 to Corey Davis who made a beautiful sliding grab to set up a 1 yard TD for Tannehill. The game was effectively over. Sometimes you have to take the chance and throw the punch, the Titans did and it landed right on the button. The Colts were done.
3. Getting Defensive – The first two drives of the game for both teams had the score 14-14 and I thought the first team to 42 was going to win and we’d never see a punt. That’s when the Titans defense dug in and got after it. The next 6 drives resulted in only 4 Colt 1st downs, 5 punts, 1 intereception and of course 0 points. On a day where the offense really shined, I thought the defense was the difference. We knew the Titans would score today, but when the defense put together those 6 straight efforts it was crushing and the Titans took over the game.
4. Signs of life – The Titans defense also held the Colts to 5 for 13 on 3rd downs!!! Woohoo!!!
5. Still the King – Derrick Henry extended his lead in the NFL rushing race with another huge game. He had 140 yards at halftime and finished with 178 averaging 6.6 per carry and oh, yeah he scored 3 touchdowns. He set the tone from the beginning, he had almost 50 yards on the opening drive and really opened things up for Ryan Tannehill and the passing game.
6. Tough Questions – No one wants to get rid of Adam Humphries, but if it means keeping Corey Davis isn’t time to start considering it. Davis delivered another strong game today with 3 catches for 70 yards on 3 targets and continues to be a devistating blocker down field. Humphries makes $9-million a year, Davis would likely cost in that ballpark. Spotrac.com has him valued at $8-million per, but I think they’d have to put him more than that to keep him from testing free agency. Take that Humphries money, pay Corey and draft someone to fill that Humphries roll. Humphries numbers and injuries don’t live up to that $9-million price tag.
7. He just makes big plays – AJ Brown has 9 touchdowns over 40 yards… 9 of them! He had 2 Sunday going 69 yards on a pass and 45 yards on a kickoff return. It’s amazing to see a man that size pull away from defenders and he’s just a problem for other teams. He told me today he thought about that drop 18 days for two weeks straight and it really bother him. He paid it back today. Brown was a difference maker, again.
8. First Place! – This was a critical win for the Titans, not a must win, but close to it. Had they lost they would have been one game back of the Colts, but with 2 losses to Indy it would have been the equivalent of 2 games back. The Titans 8-3 record is their best since 2008 and they are 5 games from just their third AFC South crown.
9. Mirror Images – 18 days ago the Titans played the Colts when they were both 6-2… Then they went to Baltimore when they and the Ravens were both 6-3… Today they and the Colts were both 7-3… Now they play the Browns and both teams are 8-3. That’s 4 straight games facing a team with an identical record and that’s just weird. After the Browns they’ve got Jacksonville so the run obviously ends.
10. Answering the challenge – When the schedule came out and you saw that back to back road challenge at Baltimore and Indy most of us were probably thinking the same thing, if they could still one that would be amazing. This team answered the challenge, after losing 3 out of 4 they went into both buildings and won. That is impressive.
11. Physical dominance – The Titans knew they had to be physical today, the Colts had outscored the Titans and Packers 41-3 over the last two second halves and they delivered. The Titans won the physical battle this time and won the game.
12. Panda Watch!!! – It’s the story I was born to tell. Isaiah Wilson got in on special teams and during a field goal got absolutely knocked on his 350 pound behind. Welcome to the NFL. It may not have been pretty but it was a step forward.
13. To be the man you have to beat the man – The Colts have been the man for years and a huge hurdle for the Titans, they just don’t go into Indy and win. The Colts also came into this game the #1 offense in the NFL and the #2 defense in the NFL dominated both side today. It is just 1 of 16, but this was a statement today by the Tennessee Titans.