Colts/Titans Notebook: Defense Closes It Out Thanks To T.Y. McGill

Intro: In the Colts/Titans Week Seven Notebook, we take a look at T.Y. McGill’s strip of Marcus Mariota, the play of the Colts’ offensive line and how Sunday’s results shifts the AFC South.

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INDIANAPOLIS – For the seventh straight week, a Colts' game had quite the ebbs and flows during the final quarter.

Sunday's 34-26 victory for the Colts gave them their first road win of 2016 and also the first victory in the AFC South this season.

Here's a notebook look at the Colts (3-4) beating the Titans (3-4) for the 15th time in their last 16 meetings:

**T.Y. McGill Finishes It Off

**He was the guy that could not stop making plays back in August.

T.Y. McGill was the defensive star of the 2016 preseason.

With the defensive line depth getting some guys back from injury since then, McGill's early regular season role hasn't been too immense.

McGill changed that in a big way on Sunday.

With the Colts taking a 27-24 lead at the 1:55 mark of the fourth quarter, it was time for the defense to try and do what the unit did in wins over Chicago and San Diego.

Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota dropped back on the first play of the drive. While Mariota settled into the pocket, McGill was busy dismantling a double team, and then taking dead aim at the arm of the 2015 No. 2 overall pick.

"It was a go call," McGill, who played much more on Sunday with Zach Kerr and Henry Anderson both out, said after the win in describing the Colts' first defensive touchdown of 2016.

"I just hit the A-gap, (got) penetration, reached out and knocked the ball the out."

The bouncing ball fell right into Robert Mathis' waiting hands.

Mathis, who admitted after the game he probably should have just gone down immediately, took the fumble 14 yards and into the end zone.

The score virtually sealed the win and was the type of play this defense has found in closing out all three Colts' wins this season.**

Offensive Line Provides Cleaner Pocket

**On paper, Sunday didn't seem like the afternoon where the Indy offensive line would provide Andrew Luck with some of the cleanest pockets he's had all season.

There's a reason they play the games though.

Tennessee was coming off back-to-back games of six sacks apiece. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is known for an attacking nature with his blitzes.

The Colts were down starting left guard Jack Mewhort, thus having to use their fifth different line combination in seven games this season.

With rookie Joe Haeg moving over to left guard, his third different starting spot of the season, and Joe Reitz back in the starting lineup at right tackle, the line gave Luck plenty of time to go through his progressions on Sunday.

"Those guys worked their freakin' butts off," Jack Doyle said of the offensive line after the tight end's career-high performance of nine catches and 78 yards.

Luck was sacked twice in 39 pass attempts, with the vast majority of the day spent having ample time to gauge where best to distribute the pigskin.

An afternoon of 27 points scored offensively seemed daunting heading into Sunday.

But with strong protection from the outset, the Colts got very solid offensive production even with another line change.

"The coaches challenge them every day," Frank Gore said after the game of the group he runs behind.

"They are a young group and they are fighting. They are getting better each week. That's all that we want – for them to continue to get better and keep working together.**

Colts Try To Move Up In AFC South

**Those in the AFC South will be watching Monday Night Football very closely.

The Houston Texans (4-2) will hit the road to take on the favored Denver Broncos.

For the Texans it is a chance to grow their AFC South lead, while the rest of the division will be looking to see if they can inch closer to the top.

Sunday's win for the Colts moved them to 3-4 and into a tie for second with the Tennessee Titans (3-4).

If the Texans lose Monday to the Broncos, the Colts and Titans will be just a game back of first place in the division.

Jacksonville (2-4) is now in last place of the AFC South, after the Jags lost to the Oakland Raiders by a score of 33-16.

The Jaguars and Titans will meet on Thursday Night Football this coming week in Nashville.**

Colts/Titans Snap Counts**

  • Injuries hit the receiver and tight end group coming into Week Seven. At receiver, the snap counts against the Titans went to T.Y. Hilton (67-of-69), Chester Rogers (56-of-69), Devin Street (38-of-69) and Tevaun Smith (7-of-69).
  • Dwayne Allen's ankle injury saw Jack Doyle (64-of-69), Mo Alie-Cox (33-of-69) and Chase Coffman (9-of-69) eat up the tight end reps.
  • The running back snaps were as followed: Frank Gore (57-of-69), Robert Turbin (11-of-69), Josh Ferguson (2-of-69). Ferguon's snaps have gone down in recent weeks.
  • With Jack Mewhort out, another new-look offensive line saw rookie Joe Haeg move over to left guard, the third different spot he's started in his first NFL season. Veteran Joe Reitz was back in the starting lineup at right tackle.
  • Defensively, Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers played all 73 snaps.
  • With Henry Anderson and Zach Kerr out on Sunday, the defensive line snaps went to: Kendall Langford (49-of-73), David Parry (41-of-73), Arthur Jones (34-of-73), T.Y. McGill (30-of-73) and Hassan Ridgeway (29-of-73).
  • At outside linebacker, reserve Akeem Ayers (37 snaps) saw more playing time than Robert Mathis (33).
  • Edwin Jackson saw his first major playing time of 2016. Jackson got 13 snaps on Sunday and had three tackles.
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