Five Things Learned

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5 Things Learned: Colts vs. Titans, Week 8

The Colts fell to the Tennessee Titans, 34-31, in overtime in Week 8. Get inside the Colts' loss with this week's installment of 5 Things Learned. 

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1. Frank Reich shouldered blame for the loss.

When Carson Wentz got back to the Colts' sideline after throwing a pick-six that put the Titans up, 31-24, with about 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter, head coach Frank Reich had a message for his quarterback.

"That's 100 percent my fault," Reich told Wentz. "That's a terrible play call. Now just go make it right."

Wentz did, leading a last-ditch touchdown drive punctuated by a 38-yard completion to Michael Pittman Jr. on third and 16 and a heave to Ashton Dulin that drew pass interference in the end zone. But instead of driving to win the game, Wentz drove to tie the game thanks to that interception.

With the Colts taking over possession at their own eight-yard line, Reich called for a tight end screen designed to go to Mo Alie-Cox. While the Colts were backed up near their own goal line, Reich's thought was the Titans would sell out to try to get a safety. allowing Alie-Cox to leak free and pick up some nice yardage to start the drive. But Titans defensive end Harold Landry III didn't bite and stayed right with Alie-Cox. Wentz didn't have anywhere to go with the ball – there was nowhere to "dirt" a throw – and he floated a pass with his left hand that was picked off by Titans cornerback Elijah Molden for a touchdown.

"I screwed it up. That's on me," Reich said. "But they did, they went down and scored and tied it up. But the problem was, that drive could've been to win the game, not just tie it up and go into overtime. So that's the problem with the mistake."

Reich's candid honesty also extended to taking responsibility for the Colts' nine penalties, which accounted for 75 yards (the Titans were penalized 11 times for 161 yards).

"I think penalties, put that back on me," Reich said. "We talk a lot about it, if we don't execute in that regard, we don't get too many penalties, I think that took away some points and that's ultimately a reflection on me."

2. A short week may benefit the Colts.

The Colts know they don't have much time to let this loss hurt – when Sunday's game ended a little after 4:30 p.m., a little under 100 hours separated them from kickoff of Thursday Night Football against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"You got to keep going," linebacker Darius Leonard. "You can't dwell on this one. Focus on the Jets and let's keep this thing going."

In one sense, the timing of the Colts' Thursday Night Football appearance couldn't be better – the quick turnaround will force this team to move forward starting Monday morning.

"Thursday Night Football, it's always tough on our bodies but sometimes it's good for your mindset to just move past this one," Wentz said.

The Jets, by the way, will come to Indianapolis fresh off beating the 5-3 Bengals, 34-31, on Sunday, with backup quarterback Mike White shredding Cincinnati's secondary for 405 yards on 37/45 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions. White and the Jets' offense erased an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to secure New York's second win of the season (the other came over the Titans in Week 4).

3. The Colts' defense held Derrick Henry to under 70 yards.

Each week, a goal of the Colts' defense is to hold opponents under 100 rushing yards and to fewer than 3.7 yards per carry. The Colts did that against the Titans (31 carries, 93 yards) thanks to some outstanding work limiting all-universe running back Derrick Henry.

Henry gained 68 yards on 28 carries (2.4 yards/attempt), good for his least-efficient game since Week 17 of the 2017 season. Henry's longest rush was nine yards, and in a close game in which he he took quite a few handoffs, he never broke off one of those explosive runs that've made him the most dangerous running back in the NFL over the last few years.

Henry might've been a little banged up – he appeared to receive some attention from Titans trainers in the first half – but that shouldn't diminish the effort put in by the Colts' defense.

Still, while the Colts' defense was pleased with their work against Henry, it's not much of a consolation prize in a three-point loss.

"It sucks," Leonard said. "You know a division game that we feel like we could have won, and it sucks. You put everything in this game. You sacrifice so much that you come out and lose this game, it hurts and it sucks."

4. Dayo Odeyingbo made his season debut.

Defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo, the Colts' 2021 second-round pick, was activated off the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List on Saturday and made his NFL debut Sunday against the Titans. Before the game, Reich told Colts Media's Larra Overton Odeyingbo's reps would be somewhat limited, and he played 16 of 73 snaps over the course of Sunday.

But only two of those 16 snaps came before halftime, with a rise in his workload seeming to coincide with Tyquan Lewis' injury, which ruled him out for the rest of the game after he suffered it intercepting a Ryan Tannehill pass in the second quarter.

Odeyingbo didn't show up in the box score but felt good coming out of playing his first game since the end of Vanderbilt's 2020 season.

"I do feel healthy," Odeyingbo said. "I feel good after this game."

5. The Colts are still only a game and a half outside a playoff spot.

The 3-5 Colts face an uphill battle in the AFC South with the Titans sitting at 6-2 and owning the season series tiebreaker over the Colts. But while this was a big game, it came in October, and there's more than half the season left to be played.

So Reich didn't feel like the AFC South slipped away from the Colts on Halloween.

"I'm probably not thinking anything slipped through our fingers," Reich said. "I understand it's a really big hole to come back and win the division. The odds are really stacked against us, but I'm just not wired to think like that. The way that I am wired and the way our team is wired is we got a game on Thursday night. We have to come back, I got to get better as a coach, we have to get better playing and get ready for a game on Thursday night."

For what it's worth, the AFC playoff picture looks like this heading into Monday Night Football (with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the New York Giants):

  1. Tennessee Titans (6-2)
  2. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
  4. Buffalo Bills (5-2)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals* (5-3)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers* (4-3)
  7. Los Angeles Chargers* (4-3)
  8. New England Patriots (4-4)
  9. Cleveland Browns (4-4)
  10. Denver Broncos (4-4)
  11. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)
  12. Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

*Denotes Wild Card seeding

So about halfway through the season, the Colts are a game and a half out of a playoff spot. That's not where this team wants or hopes to be, certainly. But it is much, much too early to even think about this season being over yet.

Thursday Night Football is back!

Don't miss your chance to be a part of Thursday Night Football live at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since 2017! Limited tickets are still available for this pivotal Colts vs. Jets showdown.

Plus, be sure to wear blue all week and take advantage of our Blue Out festivities as the national spotlight shines on Indy.

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