INDIANAPOLIS --The Colts combined plenty of defensive muscle with a highlight-reel run by Donald Brown to put away the Tennessee Titans and embrace their first victory of the 2011 season.
"It's great to finally leave here with a smile on your face," Brown said Sunday after he totaled 161 rushing yards and a huge touchdown in Indy's 27-13 victory "It was just an all-out team effort."
It started with the Colts' defense, which kept Tennessee out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. Cornerback Jacob Lacey intercepted a pass, returning it 32 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. Linebacker Pat Angerer intercepted a pass, too, grabbing it in the end zone to halt a Titans drive in the fourth quarter. Angerer also caused a fumble and made 12 tackles.
"Give credit to our defense," said Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky. "(It was) one of the better performances I've seen defensively in my career. It was nice to be out on the field to take the knee to end the game."
The Colts held Tennessee to 66 rushing yards and standout back Chris Johnson to 55.
"I think our guys did a good job of keeping (Johnson) bottled up," Colts Coach Jim Caldwell said. "They did a nice job of adhering to their principles … in taking care of the gaps and not giving him any seams.
"We made them work for everything that they got and did a tremendous job," Caldwell added. "(The Colts defenders) were really a force out there."
Tennessee Coach Mike Munchak credited Indy's defense, too.
"They have great team speed; we know that," said Munchak, whose team is 7-7. "Every time we play them, we don't necessarily have great days running the football. They run well to the ball."
But the Colts had offensive plays to remember, too.
Tennessee held a 6-3 halftime lead on two field goals by Rob Bironas to one for Adam Vinatieri, but the Colts' offense went right to work in the third quarter. A seven-play, 43-yard drive ended with an 18-yard scoring pass from Orlovsky to Reggie Wayne.
"I've gained an amazing amount of trust in him, quickly," Orlovsky said about Wayne. "He ran a great route, and I just threw it to a spot where he could make a play. He made a great play."
Lacey's interception return would follow and the Colts took a 17-6 lead. Vinatieri added another field goal early in the fourth quarter, making it 20-6.
But Tennessee wasn't finished. Jake Locker replaced Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback and passed to Nate Washington for a seven-yard touchdown, cutting Indy's lead to seven.
If there was gnashing of teeth among Colts fans at Lucas Oil Stadium, Brown then gave them reason to relax.
On Indy's first play after Tennessee's kickoff, Brown took a handoff, started right and reversed direction when he spied the Titans' defense. With the help of a block by Orlovsky, Brown slid around the left end and headed down the sideline. He went 80 yards for the touchdown, tying a franchise record set by Tom Matte in 1964 for the longest rushing gain.
"I think the world of (Brown) as a football player and more as a person," Orlovsky said. "He's a guy who gets better every carry. He starts to run better as the game goes on."
And by the way, Orlovsky has been staying at Brown's house, rent free, for the past four months. "I told him the hip check (block) was the least I could do," Orlovsky said.
Brown's big day led to the Colts accumulating 205 rushing yards.
"Donald has the ability to find holes and seams, and he's a slash runner," Caldwell said. "He can get it going if you give him a crack."
Caldwell gave credit, too, to the Colts' offensive linemen. Their effort was strong all day, and they and Brown ratcheted it up even more in the fourth quarter.
"What it really boiled down to was the end of the game," Caldwell said. "Who was going to make plays at the end? Donald was able to pop out of there and take one home, which was huge."
For Caldwell and his entire club, which persevered through the struggles of an 0-13 start, the dark clouds lifted ahead of a short week of practice and Thursday night's game against visiting Houston.
"We don't have much time to celebrate," the coach said.
For Orlovsky, it marked his first victory as a starting quarterback in the NFL. He said he was "very humbled to be a part of it" with the Colts.
"I'll enjoy this one today," said the Colts quarterback. "It's a real good feeling. It's what I thought I'd always be accustomed to. In my career, I've learned not to take them for granted. It feels great."
And for Brown, it was the kind of performance that can highlight a career.
"It feels great, but it feels better to win," the running back said.
FIRST QUARTER (0:00 remaining)
The Colts took a lead in a game for the first time in nine outings as Adam Vinatieri connected on a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the quarter. The Colts marched 56 yards in 11 plays, consuming 4:44. They ran the ball on six straight plays, gaining 42 yards and three first downs. Colts 3, Titans 0
SECOND QUARTER (5:32 remaining)
Tennessee's Rob Bironas tied the score with a 53-yard field goal, which was the culmination of a five-play, 18-yard drive. The big play was the first, a 19-yard pass completion from Matt Hasselbeck to Chris Johnson. Colts 3, Titans 3
SECOND QUARTER (21 seconds remaining)
The Titans grabbed their first lead when Bironas hit a 21-yard field goal. The drive was set up by a fumble recovery by Chris Hope, who pounced on a ball lost by Colts receiver Pierre Garcon at the Indy 48-yard line. Lavelle Hawkins provided a big play on a 22-yard pass connection from Hasselbeck. Titans 6, Colts 3
THIRD QUARTER (9:36 remaining)
The Colts regained the lead when Reggie Wayne caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Dan Orlovsky. The Colts put together a seven-play, 43-yard drive after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Tennessee provided Indy with good field position. Orlovsky threw to Joseph Addai for seven yards to convert on a key third-and-6 situation. Vinatieri added the extra point. Colts 10, Titans 6
THIRD QUARTER (6:31 remaining)
The Colts' defense, after a strong first half, saved its biggest play for the third quarter. Cornerback Jacob Lacey jumped in front of Hasselbeck's pass intended for Johnson. Lacey returned the interception 32 yards for a touchdown. It was Lacey's second career interception return for a score. Vinatieri added the extra point. Colts 17, Titans 6
FOURTH QUARTER (12:53 remaining)
The Colts added to their lead with a 40-yard field goal by Vinatieri. Donald Brown was the main man on the Colts' drive that set up the kick, gaining 53 yards on five straight rushing attempts. Colts 20, Titans 6
FOURTH QUARTER (3:43 remaining)
The Titans drew closer with their first touchdown, a seven-yard pass from Jake Locker to Nate Washington. It culminated an eight-play, 69-yard drive. Bironas added the extra point. Colts 20, Titans 13
FOURTH QUARTER (3:26 remaining)
Indy's Brown sealed the victory with an 80-yard touchdown run. Brown started right, reversed direction to the left side and ran down the sideline. The run tied a club record set by Tom Matte in 1964 for the longest rushing play. Vinatieri hit the extra point. Colts 27, Titans 13