By Terrance Turner
The Tennessee Titans came to Lucas Oil Stadium today to battle the Indianapolis Colts (whom they lost to just 17 days ago). But the Titans had no intention of repeating history. Their offense exploded in the first half, led by running back Derrick Henry. What began as a shootout in the first half quickly turned into a dominant offensive performance by the Titans. With Henry’s help, they avenged the Colts with a big win.
Derrick Henry scored the game’s first touchdown, but the Colts responded with a touchdown of their own. The Titans scored out of nowhere when receiver A.J. Brown had a 69-yard catch and run. They went up 14-7. But the Colts clapped back when quarterback Philip Rivers found receiver Trey Burton for the touchdown. That tied the two teams at 14 points apiece.
The Titans took over and drove down the field. On 3rd and goal, Tannehill got sacked, but the Colts defense got flagged for illegal hands to the face. That gave the Titans a fresh set of downs, and Henry scored again to put them ahead 21-14. But he wasn’t done yet. With 1:41 left in the second quarter, Henry found the end zone again with an 11-yard run. He broke past defenders to score his third touchdown of the day, giving the Titans a 28-14 lead. (Henry is the first Titans player with 3 rushing touchdowns in the first half since Lorenzo White in 1999.)
The Colts’ woes continued as the second half came to a close. Special-teamer Matthew Adams was flagged for throwing a punch; he was disqualified from the game. Then the Colts defense struggled to contain the surging Titans. On 4th and 4, Titans receiver Corey Davis made a dramatic catch to place the Titans at 1st and goal. Derrick Henry came off the bench, and everyone (including the CBS announcers) expected him to run in for another score. But Tannehill faked a handoff to Henry and then ran into the end zone for the touchdown. The Titans led 35-14 at halftime.
The second half began inauspiciously. The Colts failed to score on either of their first two drives, and the Titans’ offense also slowed to a crawl. But Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 49-yard field goal to extend Tennessee’s lead.
The Colts got life in the fourth quarter when Rivers hurled a pass to receiver T.Y. Hilton. But the aggressive Titans defenders stripped the ball from him. Upon review, however, the ruling of a fumble was reversed; Hilton’s knee was down. The Colts took advantage of the call and scored when Jacoby Brissett muscled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run.
With the score 38-20, the Colts caught another break. Indianapolis receiver Zach Pascal caught the ball, but so did Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler. The two fell to the ground and wrestled for control of the ball. Butler eventually wrested control, but the call came down to the refs. After a long conference, the referee ruled that “the receiver and the defender made a simultaneous catch. By rule, the offense retains possession.” That call would lead to a pivotal sequence for Indianapolis.
The Colts began their drive. After a huge pass interference call on the Titans defense, the Colts were placed near the goal line. They cashed in. T.Y. Hilton made a crucial catch in the end zone for another Colts TD. But the two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Just when things were starting to look bad for the Titans, they caught an unexpected break. Out of nowhere, a 42-yard kickoff return by A.J. Brown gave the Titans yet another TD. They won the game 45-26. Tennessee now improves to 8-3 for the season.