INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts evened their record at 1-1 on the season Sunday with their 19-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
The Colts got out to leads of 7-0 and 13-7 before the Titans (1-1) earned their first lead of the ballgame with a one-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry to put them up 14-13 with 11:31 left in the third quarter. A 49-yard Cairo Santos field goal extended Tennessee's lead to 17-13 with 4:35 to go in the third, but the fourth quarter treated Indy much better.
A four-play, 69-yard drive — highlighted by a 55-yard run by Jordan Wilkins to the Titans' 4-yard line — ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett to T.Y. Hilton with 4:38 to go, and the Colts held on from there for their first victory of the season.
"What we talked about last night: division football. We knew Tennessee was a very well-coached, physical team. Very tough to beat," Colts head coach Frank Reich said. "Have a lot of respect for them, and to just win a divisional road game we expected a war, and that's what it was. I think the thing that was most satisfying was it was a complete team effort, all three phases contributing to it. Great team win, a division road win. That's a big start for us."
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNED from Sunday's victory over the Titans:
» COMEBACK EFFORT: The Colts knew how critical it was not to get the season started with two straight losses, so they did just enough to hold back the Titans and secure win No. 1 on a hot, muggy day in Nashville on Sunday. It was an all-around effort, as the Indy defense continued to get stops, the field goal block unit saw Santos miss a 45-yard field goal at the 10:35 mark of the fourth quarter and the offense put together that aforementioned four-play, 69-yard drive that resulted in the eventual game-winning touchdown from Brissett to Hilton. A gutsy call on fourth down later in the quarter by Reich (read more below) parlayed into a huge statement for Indy, and the defense held on for the final minute to get the win. "There ain't nothing like that W," said Colts defensive tackle Denico Autry, who had two sacks on the day. "It feels good. I'm glad we got out of here with a good one, now we have to keep it rolling."
» GUTSY CALL: Although the Colts pulled ahead by two, 19-17, around the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter, a couple missed extra points meant the team would have to prevent the Titans from getting a shot at a game-winning field goal. Indy actually got the ball back after that touchdown drive, but faced a 4th and 1 from its own 35-yard line. Reich made the decision to go for it, despite the fact that a turnover on downs would result in the Titans already being in prime position to run the clock down and then kick a game-winning field goal. After unsuccessfully trying to draw the Tennessee defense offsides and then calling a timeout, Brissett and the offense took the field once again to try the conversion. On the snap, Brissett charged forward behind center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson, getting the yard needed to move the chains. The play would result in the Colts being able to milk another minute off the game clock, and although the Titans got one more final drive, they couldn't get into field goal range with just more than a minute left and no timeouts, and Marcus Mariota's final pass attempt to A.J. Brown fell incomplete on fourth down. Brissett just had one kneel from there to secure the win. That aforementioned fourth-down call, though, turned out to be a huge difference. "I never even considered anything else other than going for it," Reich said. "I just thought since we had the timeouts it made sense to try to draw 'em offsides — I figured we weren't gonna get them. But at that point, with the confidence in our offensive line, confidence in Jacoby, who's a big, strong guy, as well, there was no chance we weren't going for it."
» GETTING PRESSURE: The Indy defense was in Mariota's face all afternoon, constantly chasing him out of the pocket and taking him down for big plays. In all, the Colts logged four sacks and five quarterback hits, but perhaps the best takeaway is that the pressure was coming from all over. After not being able to get much interior pressure in last week's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Autry broke free for his first two sacks of the season, while defensive tackle Grover Stewart logged his first-career sack. Linebacker Darius Leonard also had a sack for the Colts' defense, which allowed just one third-down conversion and 119 net passing yards all day. "Yeah, again, four sacks today – Denico (Autry) with two," Reich said. "It just felt like the defense overall today, I just think played really well in all phases. I think they were one-for-10 on third down, so if you're a defense and you hold an opponent, especially that kind opponent, to one-for-10 on third down, you should win that game."
» 'ZERO CONCERN:' Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri continued his early-season struggles on Sunday, missing two extra-point attempts after missing three kicks — two field goals and one extra-point try — in last week's loss to the Chargers. But Reich continued to show confidence in his future Hall-of-Fame kicker after the game. "I have zero concern," Reich said. "He hit the upright on the (second) one. You guys probably saw the first one. It was not a good operation. The snap and hold was not clean, the ball barely got on the ground. It was not clean. So, it is what it is. Zero concern."
» NOTES OF INTEREST:
— Indianapolis improved its all-time regular season series record against the Titans to 34-15 and have won 19 of the last 21 meetings dating back to Dec. 28, 2008.
— Following Week 2, the Colts' 370 rushing yards are the third most in franchise history (most in Indianapolis history) following the first two weeks of a season.
— The 119 net passing yards for the Titans on Sunday is the lowest total for a Colts opponent dating back to Dec. 10, 2017, at Buffalo.
— See more stats and notes from Sunday's game by clicking here.
Week 2 is underway and you can see all the best action on the field as the Indianapolis Colts faceoff with the Tennessee Titans in their first divisional game of the 2019 regular season.