Colts Remain Two-and-a-Half Games Behind AFC South-Leading Tennessee
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts did more Sunday than pull off their second improbable late-game come-from-behind victory in three weeks.
They avoided falling further behind in the AFC South.
The Colts, after losses in two of their first three games, rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit Sunday afternoon to win a critical early-season AFC South game over the Houston Texans, 31-27 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The victory prevented the Colts from falling into a tie with Houston for last place in the South, helped them move into second place and allowed them to stay within two-and-half games of the AFC South lead.
The Colts (2-2) are now a half-game ahead of Jacksonville (2-3), which lost, 26-21, to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. Each is trailing the unbeaten Tennessee Titans (5-0), who rallied in the final minutes to beat Baltimore in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday.
"It feels great to be 5-0," Titans quarterback Kerry Collins said. "What we learned (Sunday) is that we can come from behind and win on the road against a good team. I hope we can keep this going because I think we can have a good year."
This past week was the first time in the seven-year history of the AFC South the Colts had been in third place.
A look at the rest of the AFC South and AFC:
Tennessee Titans (5-0)
Last week: The Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens, 13-10, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., on Sunday.
Next week: The Titans are idle this week.
Recent trend: The Titans are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, and have won a league-best eight consecutive regular-season games. They won four games in September for the second time in franchise history.
What happened Sunday: Trailing 10-6, the Titans drove 80 yards on 11 plays late in the fourth quarter, with 14-year veteran quarterback Kerry Collins throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alge Crumpler with 1:56 remaining. Former Colts cornerback Nick Harper intercepted Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to preserve the victory.
Statistically speaking: The Titans won Sunday despite being outgained by Baltimore, 285-210, and despite producing just 14 first downs. Tennessee rushed for just 47 yards and Collins completed 17 of 32 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown with an interception. The Titans have allowed 17 or fewer points in nine consecutive games.
Coming up: The Titans' bye week is this week, after which they play at Kansas City (1-4) on October 19 and play host to Indianapolis (2-2) on Monday, October 27.
Quote to note: "I like how, with six minutes left, Kerry came in and commanded the game. He showed his poise and his leadership qualities in that last drive when we scored. Being a 14-year vet, with all the things he's done, I don't care how much talent a young quarterback has, they don't have that. They haven't played enough games."
--- Titans Linebacker Keith Bulluck
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
Last week: The Jaguars lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-21, at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday.
Next week: At Denver (4-1).
Recent trend: The Jaguars, after losing their first two games, won back-to-back AFC South games in dramatic fashion – winning in overtime against Houston and on a late-game field goal against the Colts – before losing to Pittsburgh Sunday. The Jaguars haven't been under .500 after five games since 2003, when they started 0-4 and 1-4 in Head Coach Jack Del Rio's first season.
What happened Sunday: Playing AFC North-leading Pittsburgh, the Jaguars took leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-20, but the Steelers rallied for a 26-21 victory when Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Hines Ward with 1:53 remaining. Jaguars quarterback David Garrard threw incomplete on 4th-and-14 from the Jacksonville 33 on the ensuing drive to secure the victory for Pittsburgh.
Statistically speaking: The Jaguars, who have had one of the NFL's strongest defensive teams in recent seasons, rank 18th in the area this season and allowed 415 yards on Sunday night. The Steelers rushed for 129 yards and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
Coming up: The Jaguars visit Denver (4-1) Sunday and are off the following week. They will play host to the Cleveland Browns (1-3) on October 26.
Quote to note: "It's a very sad one. Guys are definitely upset. We felt like we had it. They went down and made some great plays, some amazing plays. . . . They played their butts off and we just came up on the short end."
-- Jaguars Quarterback David Garrard
Houston Texans (0-4)
Last week: The Texans lost to the Colts, 31-27, at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on Sunday.
Next week: Home against Miami (2-2).
Recent trend: The Texans, who have lost 12 of 13 games to the Colts in franchise history, are 0-4 for the second time in six seasons. In 2005, they started 0-6. Their lone victory over Indianapolis came in 2006, 27-24, on a last-play field goal.
What happened Sunday: The Texans, after leading by 17 points with just over four minutes remaining, allowed the Colts to score 21 points in a 2:10 span late in the fourth quarter. Houston had trailed 10-0 after the first quarter before controlling the next 40 minutes.
Statistically speaking: After failing behind by 10 points early, the Texans scored on five of seven possessions in the second and third quarters and early in the fourth. Houston did not commit a turnover in the game's first 55 minutes, then committed three in the last five minutes – two lost fumbles by quarterback Sage Rosenfels and an interception by Colts safety Melvin Bullitt.
Coming up: The Texans, after not having played a home game in September, will play home games the next three weeks – Miami (2-2), Detroit (0-4) and Cincinnati (0-5) – to complete a rare stretch of four consecutive home games.
Quote to note: "I've been doing it a long time, and I've never seen some crazy things happen in the last four minutes like that. But give them (the Colts) credit. They made some great plays and they found a way to win."
--- Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Buffalo (4-1): One of the hottest teams of the early NFL season, the Bills sustained their first loss Sunday in convincing and surprising fashion. Buffalo lost to the Arizona Cardinals, 41-17, with quarterback Trent Edwards getting knocked out with the concussion on the game's third play. Buffalo lost three fumbles in its own territory, turnovers that led directly to 17 Arizona points. Quarterback J.P. Losman completed 15 of 21 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown, with 87 of the yards coming on a touchdown pass to Lee Evans.
New England (3-1): A week ago, the Patriots were a game and a half out of first place in the AFC East. Now, the five-time defending AFC East champions are a half game behind Buffalo after the Bills lost to the Cardinals and New England won at San Francisco, 30-21. The Patriots held the 49ers to 199 yards offense and won for the first time in five games in San Francisco. New England will stay in California this week to prepare for their game Sunday at San Diego.
New York Jets (2-2): The Jets were idle this past week.
Miami (2-2): After winning once last season, the Dolphins have won two consecutive games – and have done so against the two teams that played in the AFC Championship Game last season. The Dolphins, who beat New England two weeks ago, 38-13, beat the San Diego Chargers, 17-10, Sunday. Against the Chargers, Miami stopped running back LaDainian Tomlinson on fourth-and-goal from the Miami 1 on the first play of the fourth quarter with Miami leading, 17-10. The Chargers never got closer than the Miami 46 again.
Pittsburgh (4-1): A week after a difficult, physical game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers traveled to Jacksonville for a second consecutive prime-time game. After losing to the Jaguars in the regular-season and postseason a year ago, the Steelers rallied from three different deficits for a 26-21 victory. After limiting their first four opponents to 66.8 yards per game rushing, the Steelers held Jacksonville to 38 yards Sunday.
Baltimore (2-2): Playing unbeaten Tennessee in Baltimore, the Ravens had a chance for the upset until a late Tennessee drive. Baltimore led 10-3 and 10-6 in the fourth quarter before allowing an 8-yard drive in the waning minutes. The Ravens held Tennessee to 14 first downs and 210 total yards. It was the second consecutive difficult loss to a division leader for the Ravens. They lost to Pittsburgh, 23-20, last Monday Night.
Cleveland (1-3): The Browns were idle this past week.
Cincinnati (0-5): The Bengals, who earlier this season lost to the unbeaten New York Giants in overtime, rallied from a 17-0 deficit to within one, 17-16, before losing at Dallas, 31-22. Cincinnati hasn't been 0-5 since 2002, when the Bengals finished 2-14. "We're at the point where we can't play good, we have to play great,'' Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who completed 23 of 39 passes for 217 yards and two touchdown passes. "We have to find a way to play that perfect game."
Denver (4-1): The Broncos played a decidedly un-Broncos-like game Sunday, but they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16-13, at home. Quarterback Jay Cutler, who passed for nearly 1,300 yards in the first four games, completed 23 of 37 passes for a season-low 227 yards and a touchdown and the Broncos led 16-6 before a late Tampa Bay touchdown cut the lead to the final margin. The Broncos had been averaging 33 points a game and had allowed an average of 29.5 points per game.
San Diego (2-3): For a second consecutive season, the Chargers have started the season slowly. A year ago, San Diego started 1-3 before winning the AFC West and qualifying for the AFC Championship Game. On Sunday, the Chargers lost to Miami, 17-10. It was their sixth consecutive loss in Miami, with their last victory coming in the postseason following the 1981 season. The Chargers had entered the game leading the NFL in scoring at 34.5 points per game.
Oakland (1-3): The Raiders were idle this past week.
Kansas City (1-4): A week after their first victory of the season, the Chiefs' struggles continued on Sunday with a 34-0 loss to Carolina. Kansas City snapped a franchise-record 12-game losing streak with a victory over then-unbeaten Denver last week, but produced just 127 total yards on Sunday. Kansas City had not been shut out since the final game of the 2002 season.