INDIANAPOLIS — The biggest play of E.J. Speed's career comes with some big recognition.
The Indianapolis Colts linebacker today was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week off the heels of his huge blocked punt in Indy's crucial Week 10 road divisional victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.
It's Speed's first-career Player of the Week award; he's the second Colts player this season to earn one of the league's weekly honors, as cornerback Xavier Rhodes was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week back in Week 3.
Speed is also the first Colts player to earn AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors since running back/returner Nyheim Hines back in Week 16 last season.
The Colts (6-3) went into halftime of Thursday's game trailing the Titans (6-3) by four, 17-13, but started to seize the momentum in the second half with big plays in all three phases.
Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked by defensive tackle/end Denico Autry on 3rd and 1 on the Titans' first drive of the third quarter, and then Trevor Daniel shanked his punt just 17 yards to the Tennessee 27-yard line.
Four plays later, Hines would run it into the end zone from two yards out, giving the Colts the lead, 20-17.
The Colts' defense would force the Titans into a three-and-out on their next possession, and that's when Speed made the play of the game. On 4th and 9 from the Tennessee 26-yard line, the second-year linebacker out of Tarleton State broke through the left side of the Titans' interior protection, dove all-out and blocked Daniel's punt.
Cornerback T.J. Carrie picked up the bouncing football at the 6-yard line and jogged it in from there for a huge special teams touchdown; all of a sudden, the Colts were now ahead by 10, 27-17, with 1:52 left in the third quarter.
"We had a blitz-screen lined up to where I could knife inside the seam and it came open. Once it came open, it was time to make a play," Speed told reporters after the game. "I made the play, we scored, and it changed the game."
Indy would cruise from there, climbing atop the AFC South standings with a 34-17 victory at Nissan Stadium.
The play for Speed and Carrie represented the Colts' first regular season blocked punt returned for a touchdown since Week 13 of the 2010 season. Indy also had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the 2018 playoffs.
The Colts this season also now have two special teams touchdowns on the year; rookie Isaiah Rodgers took a second-half kickoff 101 yards to the house back in Indy's Week 5 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Speed this season has played in eight games for the Colts, and has four special teams tackles and the aforementioned blocked punt. The 2019 fifth-round pick is also a key piece of defensive depth at linebacker.