Colts Negotiate Dramatic November, Early December Unbeaten
INDIANAPOLIS – The victories just kept coming.
And while Colts quarterback Peyton Manning knew it was great that they did – because, after all, in the NFL winning is the whole idea – he knew just as much there were some potential dangers involved.
So, when the Colts made it through the third quarter of the 2009 NFL season as they had made it through the first two quarters – undefeated and surging toward home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for a second time in five seasons – Manning also took time to offer counsel to the team's younger players.
Twelve-and-oh was great, he said. And it certainly was a step toward the goal.
But it was also other things:
Very unusual. Very difficult to reach. And certainly not to be taken for granted.
"You try to tell these guys that when you win a couple in a row, or three or four in a row, this is not normal," Manning said in early December, after the Colts beat the Tennessee Titans, 27-17, at Lucas Oil Stadium to move to 12-0 for a second time in five seasons.
On that day, the stories around the Colts focused not just on the unbeaten record. They also were within a victory of clinching home-field advantage, not to mention they had with the victory clinched an NFL-record seventh consecutive season with 12 or more victories.
They also with that win over Tennessee tied the NFL record for consecutive regular-season victories with 21, a streak that dated to October 2008. The victory over Tennessee tied them with New England for the all-time league record.
The Colts at that point long since had extended their NFL record for consecutive seasons with a winning streak of seven or more games. The 12-game winning streak to start 2009 meant that for six consecutive seasons the Colts had won at least seven consecutive games.
That meant that consistency and sustained excellence was the norm around Indianapolis, and something to which a significant part of the roster was very much accustomed.
"It's not normal to win 10 or 11 or 12 games every year," Manning said. "But these guys that have been here five years would tell me it is normal for us. That's all they've done."
Not that the third quarter of the 2009 season was normal or routine for the Colts. Far from it.
They began the month with one of the most memorable come-from-behind victories in a decade in which they had many such victories. In a Sunday Night Football game at home against New England, the Colts trailed by 17 points in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 35-34, last-minute victory in one of the league's highlight games of the 2009 season.
That was the Colts' third consecutive victory in which they trailed in the fourth quarter, and when they rallied from fourth-quarter deficits to beat Baltimore the following week and Houston the week after that, Indianapolis held another NFL record with five consecutive fourth-quarter come-from-behind victories, all of which came in November.
"We don't get overexcited certainly when things aren't going the way we want them to," Manning said after a November win. "We don't panic, we don't yell, we don't throw helmets. We just try to put the series behind us and move on to the next one."
The victory over Houston, which came after the Colts trailed 17-0 in the first half, helped the Colts clinch a sixth AFC South title in seven seasons with five games remaining in the regular season. It also clinched the team's eighth consecutive playoff appearance, the longest such active streak in the NFL.
A look at the four games in the third quarter of the 2009 season:
Game 9: INDIANAPOLIS 35, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 34
Amid the drama, Reggie Wayne said it came down to something simple.
Wayne, the Colts' three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, had been there before, as had many of his teammates: a high-profile rivalry game, a large deficit, an expiring clock. They faced that situation again in game nine of the 2009 NFL season, trailing the Patriots by six points late in a breathless, back-and-forth nationally-televised game.
Then, what Wayne said needed to happen happened.
"We got a break," Wayne said.
The break was a late fourth-down stop – one that would be discussed and analyzed long after game's end. The Colts took advantage and when Manning threw to a diving Wayne for a one-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining the Colts (9-0) had yet another dramatic, memorable, come-from-behind victory – this one 35-34 over New England (6-3) in front of a franchise-record home crowd of 67,476 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"This team here just never quits – we stayed into it," said Wayne, who caught 10 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to remain unbeaten.
The Colts, after trailing 24-14 at halftime and at the end of the third quarter, fell behind 31-14 and 34-21 in the fourth quarter.
They won by scoring twice in the game's final 2:23.
"They certainly had us on the ropes there for a while, but our guys hung in there and didn't give up – it was just a great effort and certainly a great ballgame," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said.
"I don't think they could ever say it was in the bag, even at 31-14," said Manning, who completed 28 of 44 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. "We kept scoring and making them have to make plays. . . . Certainly, a great team comeback win. Everyone had to do their part."
The game was memorable throughout, but turned on several plays late, and one play in particular drew analysis and discussion afterward. With 2:08 remaining, the Patriots faced 4th-and-2 from their 28. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who completed 29 of 42 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns, passed one yard to Kevin Faulk. Colts safety Melvin Bullitt stopped Faulk a yard short with 2:00 remaining.
The Colts then drove 29 yards in 1:47, with Manning throwing a slant to Wayne on 2nd-and-goal from the Patriots 1.
"It was another one of those nail-biting games with the New England Patriots," Wayne said. "We were lucky enough to come out on top."
The Colts took a 7-0 lead when Manning threw a 15-yard screen pass to running back Joseph Addai, but the Patriots scored the ensuing 24 points to take control.
New England tied it on the series after Addai's touchdown, with the key play being a 55-yard, play-action bomb from Brady to wide receiver Randy Moss that gave the Patriots 1st-and-goal at the Colts 6. Running back Laurence Maroney's 1-yard run two plays later made it, 7-7.
Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal gave New England its first lead, 10-7, and on the Patriots' next series, Moss outfought Colts safety Antoine Bethea for a long pass from Brady, then ran the final 10 yards for a 63-yard touchdown to give New England a 17-7 lead. The Patriots continued to stuff the Colts' offense on the next series, then drove 57 yards on five plays to push the lead to 17.
Brady threw his second touchdown pass of the game to cap the drive – a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman on which Brady avoided good pressure by Colts defensive end Robert Mathis.
The Colts put together a clutch drive on the ensuing series, trimming the lead to 24-14 with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Wayne.
Each team intercepted the other on the first drives of the third quarter, but New England turned in a time-consuming drive late in the quarter with a chance to pull away. Laurence Maroney fumbled into the end zone and middle linebacker Gary Brackett recovered to keep the Colts within 10.
The Colts stayed within range early in the fourth quarter, with Brady throwing a five-yard touchdown to Moss early in the quarter, but Manning finishing the next drive with his third touchdown pass of the game, a 29-yard pump-and-go to Pierre Garcon. That made it 31-21 with 12:14 remaining and set up yet another late dramatic victory for a team that specialized in them in 2009.
"It was a good battle, a great battle," Bethea said. "It just shows what kind of team we have. There was no bickering on the sidelines. We hung in there together. We stuck in there. We were a team. We can build off this."
Turning point: The Colts, one series after a 36-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski gave New England a 13-point lead, moved 79 yards in 1:49 to again make it a one-score game, doing so when Addai scored on a 4-yard run to make it 34-28, Patriots, with 2:23 remaining. Fifteen seconds later, New England faced 4th-and-2 at the Patriots 28. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick at first sent the punting team onto the field, then called timeout and sent the offense onto the field. Brady passed to Faulk and Bullitt stopped the play a yard short. "Everybody in the building was [surprised]," Bethea said. "But obviously, they have confidence in their offense. We had to come back on the field and make a play. We were able to do that."
Moment to remember: In the huddle following Bullitt's stop of Faulk, Manning told his teammates, "Hey, we need a touchdown, but let's not be in a hurry to score." The result was a game-winning drive that had urgency and patience at the same time. First, Manning passed 15 yards to Wayne, after which Addai ran to the Patriots 1. Addai ran once more for no gain, and with just under 20 seconds remaining, Manning wanted to throw a fade to Wayne. In the huddle, Wayne insisted on a slant. The Colts ran the slant, which Wayne snared with two hands for the winning touchdown. "He just kept fighting through and made a great, extended catch," Manning said. "It's hard for me to say it was his best catch ever – but it sure was timely."
Note: The victory was the fifth for the Colts over New England in six meetings. They beat the Patriots in the 2005, 2006 and 2008 regular seasons and the AFC Championship Game following the 2006 season, the latter of which many Colts players said was similar to the 2009 game. The Colts rallied from a 21-3 deficit to beat New England in that game. The victory also was the third time in franchise history the Colts had rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit. They rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Tampa Bay in 2003, and from a 17-point deficit to win in Houston in 2008. "I knew this was going to be a good one, but I think this might be an instant classic," Colts rookie cornerback Jerraud Powers said afterward.
Quote to note: "We're resilient. It starts at the top. It started with [former Colts Head Coach Tony] Dungy, and now with Coach Caldwell, it's contagious."--- Colts Defensive End Robert Mathis
Game 10: INDIANAPOLIS 17, BALTIMORE RAVENS 15
Jim Caldwell knew this one was far from perfect.
The Colts' first-year coach also said he knew that in the NFL, particularly in road games in November against contending teams, winning is a whole lot more imant than perfection.
The Colts, despite committing three turnovers and being held to three second-half points, forced two late turnovers of their own. Combined with a few clutch plays, that was enough for a 17-15, come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens in front of 71,320 at M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore.
"The slimmest margin of victory is still a victory," Caldwell said. "We certainly might not be pleased that we didn't play all the way around as well as we're capable of. We turned the ball over a few too many times. But all in all, our guys just keep finding ways to win."
With the victory, the Colts maintained a four-game lead in the AFC South over Jacksonville (6-4).
"We're relieved we got this win," Manning, who completed 22 of 31 passes for 299 yards with a first-half touchdown and two first-half interceptions, said. "It was a great win, a team effort. We scored enough on offense to win.
"One game at a time since the beginning of the season – that's what it will continue to be."
Against the Ravens, the story wasn't the Colts' three-time Most Valuable Player's 41st career fourth-quarter come-from-behind victory as much as:
• Colts kicker Matt Stover.
• Linebacker Gary Brackett.
• The Colts' defense.
Stover, who spent 1998-2008 with the Ravens, kicked a 25-yard field with 7:02 remaining. Those were the game-winning points, coming one possession after the Colts forced a Ravens field goal after Baltimore had 1st-and-goal on the Indianapolis 1.
"A great goal-line stand by our defense," Manning called it.
The Ravens, who finished with 354 total yards, drove inside the Colts 30 on seven of nine possessions, but the first six such possessions ended in field goal attempts.
"We scored touchdowns, they scored field goals," Manning said. "That was kind of the difference."
The Ravens' seventh trip inside the Colts' 30 came one possession after Stover's game-winner, when Brackett intercepted a short 3rd-and-7 pass from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on the Indianapolis 13 with 2:42 remaining.
Caldwell called the interception "timely."
"He did a great job corralling that one," Caldwell said.
The Colts converted a key third down on the ensuing possession when a pass from Manning to Wayne converted 3rd-and-1 with 2:19 remaining. The Ravens called their second timeout immediately after the play, then used their final timeout when their challenge of the first down was overruled.
"It was a close one," Wayne said. "It was a do-or-die play. I knew where the first-down marker was. I just didn't know where the defender was."
The Ravens forced a Colts punt with 28 seconds remaining, but after a four-yard return, Ravens safety Ed Reed lateraled and Colts linebacker Freddy Keiaho recovered at the Ravens 40 for the second forced turnover by Indianapolis in the final three minutes.
Whereas the Colts beat the Ravens in one-sided fashion in 2007 and 2008, the 2009 regular-season meeting was far different. The Colts took a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard touchdown reception by tight end Dallas Clark on the game's first drive, a score set up by a 66-yard pass from Manning to wide receiver Pierre Garcon to the Baltimore 6.
With Manning throwing an interception on the Colts' second drive, the Ravens trimmed the lead to 7-6 with field goals of 46 and 44 yards by kicker Billy Cundiff. A 38-yard field goal by Cundiff made it 9-7 midway through the second quarter, and after a five-yard run by Addai – his 10th touchdown of the season – Cundiff's 36-yard field goal with :02 remaining in the half cut it to 14-12.
"We knew it was going to be a close one, a tight one," Wayne said. "We hung in there."
Addai, whose 74 yards on 19 carries were a season-high, said, "If it was up to us, we'd try to blow every team out."
"That doesn't happen," he said. "Winning these tight games shows the character of the team."
Turning point: Shortly after Stover's game-winning field goal, the Ravens drove deep into Colts territory. Facing 3rd-and-7 from the Colts 14, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw over the middle to running back Ray Rice. Brackett intercepted with 2:42 remaining. "It was definitely a time when we needed it," Brackett said. "You wanted to do whatever you could to keep that team out of field-goal range, out of the end zone. We have to play better. We don't want teams to drive up and down the field on us."
Manning called the interception "huge." "We were certainly getting ready for two minutes," Manning said. "His interception was absolutely critical."
Moment to remember: With the Colts leading, 14-12, the Ravens used 15 plays and 8:05 to drive toward the Colts' goal early in the fourth quarter. Flacco passed 12 yards to veteran receiver Derrick Mason to give Baltimore 1st-and-goal at the 1, but a sneak by Flacco and a run by running back Willis McGahee were stopped for no gain by defensive tackle Dan Muir and Brackett, respectively. McGahee ran in the middle on third down, with outside linebacker Clint Session stopping him for a 1-yard loss that forced a field goal by Cundiff. "We really stepped up at the end," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "It was important we kept them out of the end zone. That sounds stupid and obvious, but it's true."
Note: The Colts had won their last four games by a total of 10 points after beating the Ravens. That came after a four-game stretch of double-digit victories. "That's typically how it goes in this league," Caldwell said. "When we have two-score games, that's the unusual ballgame. This game fell right in line with that [usual] type of ballgame."
Quote to note: "You love the nail-biters. It's a love-hate type deal. We had to make some crucial plays down the stretch."---Colts Cornerback Jacob Lacey
Game 11: INDIANAPOLIS 35, HOUSTON TEXANS 27
The Colts spent November coming from behind in dramatic fashion, and making history by doing so. Fittingly, they finished the month the same way.
With Manning throwing three touchdowns, and with the defense dominant in the second half, the Colts rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit for a 35-27 victory over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on the final Sunday in November.
The Colts at that point had won their last five games – all of which were played in November – after trailing in the fourth quarter.
No team in NFL history had done that more than three consecutive games.
"It's one of the things that has been kind of a hallmark of our team through the years, that you can't count us out," Caldwell said after the team's 15th victory over Houston in 16 all-time meetings. "Even when things don't look really good, you don't find any panic on the sidelines. This is something, I think, that is special about our group."
The Colts (11-0), who trailed 17-0 in the first half, outscored the Texans (5-6) by 28-7 in the second half to win in Houston for a second consecutive season after trailing by 17 points. They trailed Houston, 27-10 with less than four minutes remaining in 2008 before winning, 31-27.
"Houston came out early and made a lot of plays," said Manning, who completed 27 of 35 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns and two first-half interceptions. "Our offense, we had some missed assignments and mental errors.
"We didn't have many possessions in the first half. We were much sharper after the second series."
The Colts extended their franchise-record regular-season winning streak to 20 games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history. The NFL record for consecutive regular-season victories at the time was 21 by the 2006-08 New England Patriots.
Against Houston, the comeback was about more than an offense that was efficient throughout the second half. It was also about a defense that held Houston to 154 yards and a touchdown in the half, with 75 yards coming on a touchdown drive with Indianapolis leading by 15 points late in the fourth quarter.
The Colts' second-half comeback looked like this:
• A four-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Wayne with 11:20 remaining in the third quarter. Texans 20, Colts 14.
• A six-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Clark with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. Colts 21, Texans 20.
• A 27-yard interception return by Session with 8:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. Colts 28, Texans 20.
• A 23-yard touchdown run by running back Chad Simpson with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. Colts 35, Texans 20.
The Texans' final touchdown came on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Matt Schaub to wide receiver Jacoby Jones with :18 remaining. Tight end Jacob Tamme knocked the ensuing onside kick out of bounds to secure the victory.
Caldwell said the second-half turnaround wasn't as much about halftime speeches as halftime adjustments and improved second-half play.
"Really, to be honest with you it wasn't any different than any other halftime," Caldwell said. "We make adjustments the exact same way. We point out the issues and what we'd like to do in the second half.
"Our guys are pretty resilient. They find a way to come out and get the job done."
Said Brackett, "Unfortunately, we've been in those situations before. Things worked out. We made a couple of adjustments, switched up a couple of things, and it worked."
Schaub, after throwing for 152 first-half yards and a touchdown, was intercepted twice in the second half, and 76 of his second-half passing yards came on the final drive. A Colts defense playing without four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney (9.5 sacks in the first 10 games) registered two sacks, with a sack/fumble by Mathis stopping a second-half drive and setting up Simpson's game-clinching touchdown in a game that hardly could have started worse for the Colts.
The Texans controlled the game early, taking a 17-0 lead that nearly was larger.
Schaub, efficient throughout the first half, capped a 79-yard, 11-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to fullback Vonta Leach. A five-yard run by Chris Brown pushed the lead to 14-0.
Texans linebacker Brian Cushing intercepted Manning, whose arm was hit on the throw, on the ensuing possession, but the Colts held Houston a 35-yard field goal by kicker Kris Brown. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson nearly had a touchdown reception on the drive, and an officials review upheld a ruling on the field that the pass was incomplete.
The Colts cut into the lead late in the first half with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Pierre Garcon. That made it 17-7, and a 33-yard field goal by Brown pushed the lead to 20-7 at halftime.
"We came out kind of flat," said Bethea, whose third-quarter interception was his team-leading fourth of the season. "We knew we had to control the line of scrimmage. Once we stopped that, we made them one-dimensional.
"You don't want to come out flat, but it happens. It's a 60-minute game. You want to come out and play 60 minutes, and that's what we do."
Turning point: The Colts controlled momentum throughout the second half, but still trailed 20-14 midway through the third quarter. They took their first lead on a six-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Clark with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, then Session intercepted Schaub and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 8:09 remaining. "We had a good rush and (Schaub) didn't have much time to (throw), so I just read something and came away with an interception," Session said.
Moment to remember: As was often the case in 2009, the Colts made a key play against Houston by being aware of the situation at hand. The Colts trailed 20-14 early in the fourth quarter, and on the first play of a drive, Manning completed a four-yard pass to Addai, who was hit hard as soon as he caught the ball. The Texans celebrated a bit, which Manning noticed. "We felt like (the Houston defense) was kind of excited," Manning said. "So we quick snapped and went deep on them right away." Manning found rookie wide receiver Austin Collie deep for a 31-yard gain to move the Colts to midfield. A few plays later, Manning passed to Clark for the go-ahead touchdown.
Note: The Colts clinched a sixth AFC South title in seven seasons with the victory and a loss by the Jacksonville Jaguars later in the day. The Colts also clinched an eighth consecutive playoff appearance, the longest active streak in the NFL. "We're not pulling in the reins by any stretch of the imagination," Caldwell said. "We still have to forge ahead and continue to get better. We have to make improvements, identify our weaknesses and try to improve upon those. The important thing is you continue to improve throughout the season. We're certainly still in the business of doing that."
Quote to note: "If you doubt, you're done. It's just like showing a bad poker face. If they see that, you're in trouble. Guys just stick with it. We knew the defense was going to pick it up. We know we have to take care of the offense and get some drives going."--- Wayne
Game 12: INDIANAPOLIS 27, TENNESSEE TITANS 17
The Colts made NFL history against the Tennessee Titans in early December 2009.
And not only did they do it against one of the NFL's hottest teams, for a change they stopped no hearts to do it.
With Addai rushing for two first-half touchdowns, and with a defense that played better the closer it was to its own end zone, the Colts took a 14-point halftime lead and never let the Titans cut the lead below 10 points in a 27-17 victory on the first weekend in December in front of 66,321 at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
With the victory, the Colts won their 21st consecutive regular-season game, tying the NFL record held by the 2006-08 New England Patriots.
Afterward, the Colts approached the record as they had approached the streak.
Yes, the consecutive victories were nice, they said.
But they were hardly the ultimate goal.
"We certainly do not take it for granted," Manning said after completing 24 of 37 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions for a 95.6 passer rating. "It's obviously fun to win. It does build momentum, but we have taken it one week it at a time. We enjoy it when we're allowed to enjoy it, but we have to work next week for the next opponent."
The Colts against the Titans took first-half leads of 7-0 and 21-3, marking the first time since a 42-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on October 25 they had not trailed in a game. Tennessee never got closer than 10 after Addai scored his second touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run with 11:42 remaining in the second quarter.
"That's something we did talk about: 'Hey, these comebacks are nice, but we don't have to [rely on them]," Manning said. "I've always felt a comeback win meant you screwed up in the first three quarters to put yourself in that position."
The Colts forced two Tennessee turnovers, and held Titans running back Chris Johnson to a 4.2-yards-per carry average, 2.2 yards below his season average. Johnson, who had rushed for 800 yards in five November games, rushed for 113 on 27 carries in the game. His longest run was 11 yards.
"He's going to get his yards," Caldwell said. "There's no question about that. He's a talented guy. The good thing about it, we didn't let him loose. He didn't get one of those 85-yard runs against us, which he is certainly capable of.
"I think our guys kind of kept him running parallel at the line of scrimmage rather than North and South. We're certainly pleased with the effort."
Addai, who rushed for 79 yards on 21 carries, gave the Colts an early lead with an eight-yard run and also caught three passes for 17 yards. Two of his receptions gave the Colts key first downs, and Addai said afterward while the streak, and being unbeaten, is nice, "it doesn't mean a thing if you don't win the big game."
"I think every kid's dream is to play in the Super Bowl," Addai said. "That's the big thing, to keep on winning games, not to try to go undefeated."
The Colts took an early lead with an efficient offense, and a timely defense that improved throughout the first half.
The Colts, with Manning throwing to Garcon for gains of 27 and 36 yards, took a quick 7-0 lead with 13:02 remaining, with Addai's 8-yard run capping a five-play, 75-yard drive. The Titans drove 69 yards on the ensuing drive but after reaching the Colts 2, settled for a 20-yard field goal by Rob Bironas.
Freeney sacked Vince Young to stop the ensuing possession at the Titans 45, after which Indianapolis pushed the lead 11 with a 1-yard touchdown run by Addai.
Indianapolis forced turnovers on the next two Titans drives, with defensive tackle Eric Foster recovering a fumble by Titans running back Ahmard Hall and Jacob Lacey intercepting Young.
Foster's recovery led to a quick punt, but after Lacey intercepted Young near the Titans sideline at the Titans 42, Manning took the Colts on a drive that ended with him throwing four yards to Collie to make it 21-3, Colts.
The Colts maintained their lead throughout the third quarter, and late in the period, had their second goal-line stand, this time holding the Titans out of the end zone after Tennessee faced 1st-and-goal on the Colts 1. Young threw a fade route to Britt on 4th-and-goal from the 2, but with Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers defending, the pass was incomplete.
"We got off to a pretty good first half and played well," Caldwell said. "We did some things that we really set out to do. We started out a little faster than we had in recent weeks. But our second half, we certainly didn't do as well as we'd like.
"We had some very important defensive stops that were key and important. There were enough good things to make us feel pretty good about ourselves and certainly enough things to humble us as well. We know we have a lot of work to do before next week."
Turning point: There were several turning points against the Titans, primarily each time they drove near the Colts' goal line. The Colts' defense, which allowed 375 yards, three times held the Titans without touchdowns on key red-zone opportunities, holding Tennessee to a field goal after a 1st-and-goal from the 2 in the first half and forcing Tennessee to give up possession on downs after a 1st-and-goal from the 1 late in the third quarter. "It was kind of a classic effort, I think," Caldwell said. "It's kind of how games go each week. It may look like the margin is fairly wide, but usually, it narrows and we have to battle all the way through to get this one done. I would say this is kind of a typical game this season."
Moment to remember: The Titans cut the lead with to 11 – and cut into the Colts' momentum – with a touchdown pass from Young to wide receiver Kenny Britt 20 seconds before halftime. Twenty seconds later, the Colts had momentum back – along with a 14-point lead. The Colts drove 38 yards following the kickoff, with Stover kicking a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the half. Garcon, who had six receptions for 136 yards – including five for 126 in the first half – set up the score with an 18-yard reception. "You can argue that might have changed the outcome of the game," Manning said. "With 18 seconds left and two timeouts – thanks to Coach Caldwell – he put some trust in us to go down there and try to get a field goal. Pierre made a nice play and a Stover made a big kick."
Note: Addai rushed for 44 yards on 12 first-half carries, finishing with 79 yards – and two touchdowns – on 21 carries. "The biggest thing is when they call your number you have to answer," Addai said. "I don't look at it like, 'Okay, it's third down, Joe, let's go get it.' I'm trying to get it on every play. That's my mindset. It's never about, 'Okay, this is the money down.' I think if you keep working on the small things, stuff like that happens." At that point in the season, Addai was averaging 4.1 yards per carry in the last five games and had scored five rushing touchdowns in that span. "He's doing just a great job of hunting the end zone," Colts center Jeff Saturday said. "He's getting downfield, running guys over and taking them into the end zone with him, and that's a big deal."
Quote to note: "I think we are building on what we've already had here previously, in terms of how we do things and the way we do them. We have a great organization from top to bottom and great players and an outstanding staff as well. I would attribute the success we have had to them."--- Caldwell