Colts Remain A Game Behind in AFC South After First Victory of Season
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts on Sunday did more than rally from a 15-point second-half deficit, and they did more than avert their first 0-2 start in a decade.
They stayed within a game of the lead in the AFC South.
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions, rallied from a 9-0 halftime deficit and a 15-0 deficit late in the third quarter to beat the Minnesota Vikings, 18-15, in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday afternoon. The victory moved the Colts to 1-1.
It also moved them into sole possession of second place in the South, a game behind the Tennessee Titans, who improved to 2-0 with a 24-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati.
The Titans and Colts each won on a day when the Houston Texans were idle, with Hurricane Ike forcing the postponement of their scheduled game against the Baltimore Ravens. Originally rescheduled for Monday, the game now will be played on November 9.
With the Colts and Titans winning, the Jacksonville Jaguars – the team that finished second in the division in 2005 and 2007 – lost their second consecutive game to start the season, 20-16, to the Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars are now two games behind Tennessee.
The Colts will play host to the Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday at 4:15 p.m.
A look at the rest of the AFC South and AFC:
Tennessee Titans (2-0)
Last week: The Titans beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-7, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Sunday.
Next week: Home against Houston (0-1) Sunday.
Recent trend: The Titans are 2-0 for the first time since 1999. That was the only season in franchise history they have made the Super Bowl.
What happened Sunday: In a game played in winds up to 60 mph, and with veteran Kerry Collins starting in place of injured Vince Young at quarterback, the Titans controlled the game from the start. Collins completed 14 of 21 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown and rookie running back Chris Johnson rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries for Tennessee.
Statistically speaking: For the second time in as many weeks, the Titans did not allow a point in the first quarter. In the regular-season opener, the Jaguars produced 30 first-half yards and the Bengals produced 47 Sunday. Since the beginning of last season, the Titans have shut out seven opponents in the first quarter and only one opponent – Carolina last November – has scored more than seven points.
Coming up: The Titans play host to AFC South rival Houston (0-1) Sunday and the Minnesota Vikings (0-2) the following week before visiting Baltimore (1-0) on October 5. The Titans' bye week is October 12.
Quote to note: "Someone pointed out to me . . . that this is the first time we've started out 2-0 since 1999. It's hard to believe that, but the reason we're 2-0 is because we had everyone contribute for the second consecutive week. Today was a great effort in very unusual circumstances."
--- Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Last week: The Jaguars lost to the Buffalo Bills, 20-16, at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday.
Next week: At Indianapolis (1-1) Sunday.
Recent trend: The Jaguars are 0-2 for the first time since 2003, the last time they finished below .500. They have allowed just 37 points this season, but have managed just two touchdowns in two games.
What happened Sunday: After facing an early deficit, the Jaguars rallied to take the lead – and control of the game's momentum – in the third quarter. They turned a 10-3 halftime deficit into a 16-10 lead during a quarter in which they allowed the Bills to run just four offensive plays. Bills quarterback Trent Edwards completed 20 of 25 passes for 239 yards and his seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver James Hardy in the fourth quarter gave the Bills a 17-16 lead they never relinquished.
Statistically speaking: Jaguars quarterback David Garrard completed 17 of 28 passes for 170 yards and threw an interception in the end zone late in the first half. Jaguars running back Fred Taylor rushed for 49 yards on 14 carries and Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 17 yards. A week after rushing for 33 yards against Tennessee, the Jaguars rushed for 98 Sunday, with 32 by Garrard.
Coming up: The Jaguars will visit the Colts (1-1) Sunday, before playing host to Houston (0-1) on the final weekend of September. The Jaguars then play host to Pittsburgh (2-0) on October 5 before a game at Denver the following Sunday.
Quote to note: "Losing two games isn't the end of the world. Obviously, you don't want to start out 0-2. But the swagger's not gone, the confidence isn't gone, the expectations aren't gone. We've just got to regroup and get this thing turned around before it gets ugly."
--- Jaguars Cornerback Drayton Florence
Houston Texans (0-1)
Last week: The Texans were idle this past week.
Next week: At Tennessee (2-0) Sunday.
Recent trend: After finishing last season on a surge with three victories in the last four games and the first .500 season in franchise history, the Texans lost their opener against Pittsburgh last week.
What happened Sunday: Because of damage to Reliant Stadium by Hurricane Ike, the Texans' scheduled game against the Baltimore Ravens has been rescheduled for November 9.
Statistically speaking: The Texans were idle this past week.
Coming up: The Texans will play back-to-back road games at AFC South rivals – at Tennessee (2-0) on September 21 and at Jacksonville (0-2) on September 28 – before playing home games on three consecutive weeks: Indianapolis on October 5, Miami on October 12 and Detroit on October 19.
New England (2-0): So much for the idea of some observers that the Patriots might slip because of the absence of quarterback Tom Brady. With reserve Matt Cassell making his first start since high school, New England traveled to the Meadowlands in New Jersey and beat the AFC East rival Jets, 19-10. Cassell completed 16 of 23 passes for 165 yards and did not throw a touchdown or an interception. The victory was the 21st regular-season game in succession without a loss for the Patriots.
Buffalo (2-0): The Bills have shown signs of developing into a contender in recent seasons, but rarely have they looked as impressive as they have early this season. A week after dominating Seattle at home in the regular-season opener, the Bills beat Jacksonville – a team expected to contend for its first AFC South title – in Jacksonville despite a heat index in the 90s. The Bills last started 2-0 in 2003, finishing 6-10 that season.
New York Jets (1-1): Adding Brett Favre as quarterback did nothing to change the Jets' results against AFC East power New England. Favre, who led the Jets to a victory over winless Miami in the season opener, completed 18 of 26 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots Sunday, but an interception by safety Brandon Meriweather – the first thrown by Favre since joining the Jets in the preseason – led to a crucial second-half touchdown for New England. It was the Patriots' eighth consecutive victory over the Jets in the Meadowlands.
Miami (0-2): The Dolphins, a week after narrowly losing to the New York Jets at home in the regular-season opener, traveled to Arizona for the first time in 12 seasons and lost, 31-10. Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington completed 10 of 20 passes for 112 yards. The Dolphins, who went 1-15 last season, lost their 11th consecutive road game. "You're always going to hit some adversity," Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano said. "And we're hitting some adversity right now."
Pittsburgh (2-0): The Steelers moved into a familiar place – first place in the AFC North – with a 10-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night in a game played in fierce winds that reached up to 50 mph. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, is now 18-4 against North teams. Pittsburgh won the division title in 2004, 2005 and again last season.
Baltimore (1-0): Because of damage to Reliant Stadium by Hurricane Ike, the Ravens' scheduled game against the Houston Texans has been rescheduled for November 9.
Cleveland (0-2): The Browns, predicted by many analysts to contend for their first playoff appearance since 2002, have played a difficult early-season schedule, losing at home to two teams expected to contend for their division titles – Dallas last week and Pittsburgh on Sunday night. It was the Browns' 10th consecutive loss to the Steelers and the 15th in the last 16 games. The Browns' offense moved effectively in the second half against Pittsburgh, but scored just two field goals.
Cincinnati (0-2): In a game played in difficult conditions – winds up to 60 mph – the Bengals struggled offensively and lost to the Tennessee Titans, 24-7. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has had the two lowest passer ratings of his career in the first two games this season. On Sunday, he completed 16 of 27 passes for 134 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. He had a 35.2 rating in a season-opening loss to Baltimore.
Denver (2-0): The Broncos beat the Chargers, 39-38, Sunday, when Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan opted to go for a two-point conversion with 24 seconds remaining. Quarterback Jay Cutler completed the conversion pass to rookie Eddie Royal to give Denver the victory. It was the third time since the two-point conversion was added in 1994 that a team had successfully won the game by going for a two-point conversion in the waning seconds. "Sometimes you have to go with your gut," Shanahan said. "I just felt like it was a chance for us to put them away. I didn't want to count on the coin flip. I wanted to do it then, and obviously it worked out."
Oakland (1-1): A week after a one-sided loss to the Denver Broncos in the regular-season opener, the Raiders rushed for 300 yards in a 23-8 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Rookie running back Darren McFadden, the No. 4 overall selection in the draft, rushed for 164 yards and had a 50-yard run. Of Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin's five victories in two seasons with the team, two have come against the Chiefs.
San Diego (0-2): A preseason selection by many observers to win the AFC West and contend for the Super Bowl, the Chargers lost in heartbreaking fashion for a second consecutive week. The Chargers lost to the Carolina Panthers on the game's final play in the opener and on Sunday, they lost to the Broncos when the Broncos converted a two-point conversion with 24 seconds remaining. The Chargers overcame a 1-3 start to win the AFC West last season.
Kansas City (0-2): The Chiefs are 0-2 for the third time in as many seasons under Head Coach Herman Edwards. The 300 yards rushing allowed were the third-most in franchise history. After a 4-3 start last season, the Chiefs have lost their last 11 regular-season games.