INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts improved to 5-5 on the season Sunday with their 38-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It was the fourth straight win for head coach Frank Reich's team, which has officially climbed out of the hole it dug itself by starting the season 1-5. Lots of work remains the rest of the way, but a blowout victory in the division over a hot Titans team certainly feels good.
"Now, that's as complete a game as you can play," Reich told reporters after the game. "We've been using the phrase, 'We've dug ourselves a hole and we have to dig ourselves out.' So we said, 'OK, we're out of the hole. Our eyes can see over the horizon, but now we have a mountain to climb.' We've got a long way to go. So we're going to keep the same mindset — one week at a time."
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNED from Sunday's victory over the Titans:
• POTENT OFFENSE: The Colts have had one of the league's top offensive attacks the better part of the past month, and that trend certainly continued Sunday. Taking on the league's top scoring defense, Indy broke out for 38 points, 397 yards (295 passing and 102 rushing) and, for a fifth straight game, the Colts did not allow a sack of quarterback Andrew Luck, who turned in the second-best single-game performances of his career in terms of QB rating (143.8) and completion percentage (79.3). That sackless streak, by the way, is the tied with the 2010 New York Giants and the 2008 Tennessee Titans for the third-longest streak in the NFL since at least 1982. "I think our coaches are putting us in a really good position to succeed," left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. "They're not just putting us out there. They're definitely giving us a good opportunity to be successful. When our whole offense is clicking it definitely makes our job easier as well. We are the cause for some of the good stuff, but we also kind of reap the benefits of some of the other good things that are happening."
• SWARMING DEFENSE: During the first four weeks of the regular season, the Colts' defense climbed all the way up to No. 2 in the league with 17 sacks. Entering Sunday's game, that pass rush, for a variety of reasons, had disappeared at times — but, boy, did it come back against the Titans. The Colts brought down Marcus Mariota and, later, Blaine Gabbert, for 5.0 sacks on the day and had seven total quarterback hits, as defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus really ramped up the pressure — especially on third down. Indy also had two interceptions on the day — plays by Quincy Wilson and Darius Leonard — and remains one of three teams in the NFL with at least one takeaway in all of its games. "We are always working on preparation and working on finishing," Wilson said. "Here and there, we will put together four quarter games, like we did against the Bills, and now we did it again. But we're just working on doing it every week now. The outcome is always good, so we are just going to keep working on that."
• KING OF THE HILTON: One of the keys to the Colts' success on offense lately has been the fact that opposing teams have been paying extra special attention on the team's No. 1 wide receiver, T.Y. Hilton, and, accordingly, leaving openings elsewhere for Indy to take advantage of. But on Sunday, the Titans decided to utilize mostly one-on-one matchups against Hilton — and The Ghost feasted. Mostly lined up against 2017 first-round pick Adoreé Jackson, Hilton caught all nine passes thrown his way for 155 yards and two touchdowns, including a long bomb play of 68 yards. Hilton now stands just one receiving touchdown shy of tying his previous single-season career high of seven, and he remains on track to be in the 1,000-yard range, despite missing significant time earlier in the season and also being more of a decoy in recent weeks.
• REGGIE! REGGIE! REGGIE!: Sunday's game was also an opportunity to celebrate one of the most beloved players in Colts franchise history: wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Nobody has played in more games wearing the Horseshoe than Wayne, and now he's immortalized forever with his name in the rafters — right next to Peyton Manning's — as a member of the Colts' Ring of Honor. Wayne totaled 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns during his 211 games over 14 seasons in Indianapolis from 2001 through 2014, and the six-time Pro Bowl selection and First-Team All-Pro also was a key member of the Colts' Super Bowl XLI championship team, catching a 53-yard touchdown pass from Manning to open up the scoring for Indy. Those who returned for the halftime ceremony included Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, Bill Polian, Tom Moore and many, many more of Wayne's former teammates and coaches. "A lot of emotions," Wayne said of the day's events. "I had to hold it in. There was a little wager on if I was going to shed a tear or not, so I had to keep it tight. But, it was awesome, great experience, man. I mean just, you know, my teammates that came back to help support, you'd always hope that when you played you would inspire others, impact others. You never know, you know what I mean and to see all of those guys come back, it was awesome."
• NOTES OF INTEREST:
— The Colts' offense has now scored at least 24 points in seven straight games. It is the longest streak since 2005 when the Colts did it in 10 straight from (10/2-12/11).
— Luck improved his record to 10-0 against the Titans and joins John Elway (10-0 vs. the Patriots) as the only quarterbacks to have a 10-0 or better record against a single team.
— With the win, kicker Adam Vinatieri passed George Blanda (209) for the most career regular season wins in NFL history.