Colts Slip Three Games Behind in AFC South with Loss in Green Bay
INDIANAPOLIS – A big, prime-time game just got a bit bigger for the Colts.
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions, have trailed in the division throughout the season, and with a 34-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., on Sunday, what was a two-game deficit grew to three.
Next up for the Colts:
The unbeaten Tennessee Titans.
The AFC South-leading Titans.
"We have to regroup and play better next week," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said of the Colts' game against the Titans on Monday, October 27, at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
"It's certainly an imant game, because it's a division game. Division games count double. I know they're playing very well and they're always tough to play there. When you get to this point, you do scoreboard watch to see what other teams in the division are doing.
"You don't want to get too far behind. We need to have a good week of practice this week, regroup and go down there and play much better than we did today, because they're an excellent team."
The Colts, who hadn't trailed in the division since 2004 entering this season, had won two consecutive games after losing two of three games before a Week 4 bye week. But against the Packers, they fell behind by 10 points at halftime and never cut the lead under double digits again.
The Titans, the only team other than the Colts to win the South, won their only AFC South title in 2002.
Before this season, the Colts' largest deficit in the South had been one game.
A victory for the Titans Monday over the Cotls would give them victories over all three AFC South opponents in the first half of the season.
A look at the rest of the AFC South and AFC:
Tennessee Titans (6-0)
Last week: The Titans beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-10, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday.
Next week: Home against Indianapolis (3-3) Monday.
Recent trend: The Titans are 6-0 for the first time in franchise history, and have won a league-best nine consecutive regular-season games. Their three-game lead is their largest since the 2002 inception of the AFC South. They hadn't led the South since 2002, when they won the first title in the division's history.
What happened Sunday: The Titans dominated the Chiefs by doing the same things they had done in their previous five games – running the ball well and playing solid defense. Running back LenDale White rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries and rookie running back Chris Johnson rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. For the game, the Titans outrushed the Chiefs, 332-58.
Statistically speaking: The Titans, who have allowed 17 or fewer points in 10 consecutive games, have allowed two sacks in six games this season. During their nine-game regular-season winning streak, kicker Rob Bironas has not missed a field goal or extra point. He has converted 18 consecutive field goals. Tennessee's 332 yards rushing broke a franchise-record set in 1977, more than two decades before the team's move to Nashville.
Coming up: The Titans play host to Indianapolis (3-3) on Monday, then play host to Green Bay (4-3) the following week before visiting Chicago (4-3). They will visit Jacksonville (3-3) November 16, then play host to the New York Jets (3-3) on November 23.
Quote to note: "Everybody was talking about us having a trap game. Thirty-four, or whatever the score was, shows how focused we were."
--- Titans Linebacker Keith Bulluck
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)
Last week: The Jaguars were idle this past week.
Next week: Home against Cleveland (2-4).
Recent trend: The Jaguars, after losing their first two games, have won three of their last four games – with the only loss to Pittsburgh in Jacksonville on Sunday Night Football two weeks ago.
What happened Sunday: The Jaguars were idle this past week.
Statistically speaking: The Jaguars have stayed in contention despite an uncharacteristically slow start by the team's running game. After ranking second in the NFL in rushing a year ago, Jacksonville ranks 13th in the area this season at 116.5 yards per game. Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, a Pro Bowl selection last season, has rushed for 242 yards – his lowest total after six games in his 11-year NFL career.
Coming up: The Jaguars play host to Cleveland (2-4) Sunday. They visit Cincinnati (0-7) and Detroit (0-6) the following two weeks before playing host to division-leading Tennessee (6-0) on November 16. They will play host to Minnesota (3-4) on November 23.
Quote to note: "One of the things I take pride in is doing all I can to help the men I have here learn life lessons. Football is a slice of life. It's important that you be able to fight through adversity. Our guys have been able to do that. There's no question in my mind this was an early-season storm that could've ruined a team. We were able to survive it. We've been in each and every ballgame. There's definitely been some character building take place in those first six games. It has a way of hardening us that could later be beneficial."
--- Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio
Houston Texans (2-4)
Last week: The Texans beat the Detroit Lions, 28-21, at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on Sunday.
Next week: Home against Cincinnati (0-7).
Recent trend: After losing their first four games – including a 31-27 loss to Indianapolis in which they squandered a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead – the Texans have won two consecutive games and play the winless Cincinnati Bengals next week with a chance to scratch back into the AFC playoff chase after seven games.
What happened Sunday: The Texans had one of their best starts in franchise history, and held on to the lead for their second consecutive victory. Tight end Owen Daniels caught a pair of touchdown passes and running backs Steve Slaton and Ahman Green each rushed for a touchdown. The Texans scored touchdowns on their first three possessions for the first time in franchise history, the held off a late Lions rally.
Statistically speaking: Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson caught 11 passes for 141 yards on Sunday, the third consecutive game in which he has had at least 100 yards receiving. He has 20 receptions for 456 yards in his last three games, including nine receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Colts two weeks ago and 10 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown against Miami last week.
Coming up: The Texans will play host to Cincinnati (0-7) Sunday to complete a rare stretch of four consecutive home games. They will then visit Minnesota (3-4) on November 2, before playing host to Baltimore (3-3) on November 9. They will visit Indianapolis (3-3) and Cleveland (2-4) the following two weeks.
Quote to note: "I'm a little relieved, I guess. You've got to enjoy winning in this league. It's hard to win. Sometimes you play good enough and you don't win and then today we definitely didn't play good enough throughout the second half, but we found a way to win."
--- Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Buffalo (5-1): The Bills continued to emerge as one of the AFC's power teams early in the season with a 23-14 victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers, who played in the AFC Championship Game a year ago. Bills quarterback Trent Edwards completed 25 of 30 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown. The Bills last started 5-1 in 1995. Buffalo forced three San Diego turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter.
New England (3-2): The Patriots will play host to Denver on Monday night.
New York Jets (3-3): The Jets had an opportunity on Sunday to move into solid early-season position in the AFC playoff chase, but lost a chance to move two games above .500 – as well as a chance to get a big road victory on the West Coast. Jets quarterback Brett Favre completed 21 of 38 passes for 197 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. It was the first time in Favre's six games with the Jets that he had not thrown a touchdown pass.
Miami (2-4): After moving to .500 with a pair of victories over teams that made the AFC Championship Game a year ago – New England and San Diego – the Dolphins slipped two games under .500 with their second consecutive loss. On Sunday, Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown rushed for 27 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Chad Pennington completed 8 of 15 passes for 96 yards and an interception for a passer rating of 45.4. "It's our second game in a row that we've lost, and we've been here before, and that's exactly what I just told them," Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano said. "We lost two games in the beginning of this thing and we need to go back and we need to understand how we win."
Pittsburgh (5-1): The Steelers continue to look like one of the NFL's strongest teams of the early season. A year after winning the AFC North, the Steelers lead the division by two games and have a victory over the second-place Ravens. On Sunday, the Steelers dominated Cincinnati, 38-10, with running back Mewelde Moore – starting his second game for the injured Willie Parker – carrying 20 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 17 of 28 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
Baltimore (3-3): The Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak with 27-13 victory in Miami, allowing the Dolphins just 71 yards rushing. They haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 25 games, the longest ongoing such streak in the NFL. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed 17 of 23 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown, and Ravens Pro Bowl running back Willis McGahee rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown in 19 carries.
Cleveland (2-4): A week after a victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Browns narrowly missed winning a third consecutive game Sunday. Browns kicker Phil Dawson missed a 54-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining. Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson completed 14 of 37 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown a week after passing for 310 yards against the Giants. Anderson was 5-of-22 passing before a late rally.
Cincinnati (0-7): A difficult season for the Bengals continues. They slipped to 0-7 for the fifth time since the 1991 season and the first time since 2002. Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, playing in place of injured Carson Palmer, completed 21 of 35 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked seven times. "That's not what professional football is all about," Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis said. "We didn't protect the quarterback, and when you do that, you're going to have a hard time getting the ball up and down the field."
Denver (4-2): The Broncos will visit New England Monday night.
San Diego (3-4): An up-and-down early season continued on Sunday for San Diego. The Chargers traveled across the country to play Buffalo and were competitive throughout, but committed three turnovers – including two late in the fourth quarter – in a 23-14 loss to the Bills. In the Buffalo game, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 22 of 29 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, but also committed three turnovers – two interceptions and a lost fumble.
Oakland (2-4): The Raiders had come close to late-game victories more than once this season. On Sunday, they got one, beating the New York Jets in overtime, 16-13. Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski's franchise-record 57-yard field goal won it with 2:30 remaining in overtime. "We believe now, whereas before, we would get in the fourth quarter and it would kind of fall apart on us," Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "I think we needed this to spark our success."
Kansas City (1-5): The Chiefs' season continued to get more difficult Sunday. They lost to the Tennessee Titans, 34-10, at home, and lost quarterback Brodie Croyle for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. With running back Larry Johnson suspended for violating team rules, backup running back Kolby Smith rushed for 20 yards on 10 carries.