NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Indianapolis Colts are back where they belong: in the playoffs.
The Colts on Sunday night delivered when it mattered the most, going on the road to defeat their AFC South Division rival Tennessee Titans, 33-17, in their win-or-go-home Week 17 battle at Nissan Stadium.
It’s the Colts’ first postseason berth since the 2014 season. Indianapolis, the sixth seed, will stay within the AFC South for its first-round playoff matchup, as the Colts on Saturday will travel to take on the Houston Texans, the third seed, in a Wild Card matchup at NRG Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 4:35 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on ESPN.
The Colts (10-6) got everything, and then some, from the Titans (9-7), who just wouldn’t go away Sunday night, despite the fact their starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota, was inactive with a nagging stinger injury.
Indianapolis had two separate 14-point leads in Sunday’s game, opening things up with two straight touchdown drives to go up 14-0, but then seeing Tennessee eventually get back with seven, 14-7, and then seven once again, 17-10, going into halftime.
The Colts came out of halftime with a solid seven-play, 68-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to tight end Ryan Hewitt to put Indy up 14 once again, 24-10.
But Tennessee wouldn’t go away, reaching the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert to tight end Luke Stocker at the 1:55 mark of the third quarter, cutting the Colts’ lead to 24-17.
The Titans looked poised to go on a potential game-tying drive midway through the fourth quarter as they approached midfield.
But that’s when Kenny Moore II made the play of the game — and perhaps the season.
Moore II stepped in front of Gabbert’s pass attempt on 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 46-yard line, a play made with 9:17 left in the fourth quarter — the third interception of the season for the second-year cornerback.
The Colts would turn that into a 25-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal to go up 10 points, 27-17, and would hang on from there to become the third team since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to earn a postseason berth after starting a season 1-5.
Indianapolis now hopes to replicate its result from back in Week 14, when it went into Houston and defeated the Texans, 24-21.
Luck in that game completed 27-of-41 passes for 399 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while wide receiver T.Y. Hilton went off for nine receptions for 199 yards. Denico Autry provided the muscle on defense, finishing with two sacks and two tackles for loss against a Houston offensive line that gave up the most sacks, 56, in the NFL this season.
The Indianapolis Colts end the season with a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Tennessee Titans with a trip to the playoffs on the line.