INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts fell to 2-4 on the season Monday night with their 36-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.
](https://twitter.com/myindymcdonalds)The Colts outplayed their AFC South Division rivals in the first half and into the early part of the third quarter before the host Titans were able to steal the momentum and get right back into the ballgame. A 21-3 advantage in the fourth quarter sealed Tennessee's first win against Indianapolis in their last 12 matchups.
"It's a recurring thing, I know that," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of his team's second-half struggles the past five weeks. "Credit Tennessee, they came out and did what they had to do to control the second half. We couldn't get anything going in the second half, couldn't get anything going offensively. Three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, and punt, punt, punt and we give up big plays again on the defensive side and you just can't do it."
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNED from Monday's loss to the Titans:
• DÉJÁ VU:It's been a very frustrating theme for the Colts. Heading into Monday's game, the Colts had possessed second-half leads each of the past four weeks, only to see the opponent get right back in the ballgame the final two quarters. Though Indianapolis was able to win two of those four games, the team hoped it could shore up some of those second-half issues against their division rivals, the Titans. That didn't happen, however. The Colts led by as many as 10, 19-9, early in the third quarter, and then Tennessee took all the momentum, finishing the game on a 25-3 run, including that aforementioned 21-3 advantage in the fourth quarter alone. While the coaches and players have each pointed out specific issues in the second half of games this year, the overall message is simple: they just need to execute. Period. With Jacksonville coming to Indy on Sunday, the Colts hope to finally break this trend and get headed in the right direction.
• SIMON SAYS:John Simon has been as solid a pickup for the Indy defense as first-year general manager Chris Ballard could've hoped for, and he had his best performance in a Colts uniform to date on Monday. Simon not only had a team-best 11 tackles, he not only had two tackles for loss, he not only had three quarterback hits and he not only tallied his third sack of the season, but he earned his first-ever interception early in the third quarter, which he took 26 yards to the house for a touchdown. Simon showed off his hands on the play, when he jumped at the line trying to, at the very least, affect the pass, but it stuck right in his paws instead, and from there he outran Titans running back DeMarco Murray to the end zone for the score.
• OFFENSE STALLS:Last week, in the Colts' eventual overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Indianapolis defense was a point of second-half discussion, after allowing several big plays to a 49ers offensive unit that had experienced issues putting points on the board to that point of the season. But on Monday against the Titans, it was the Colts' offense that didn't hold up its end of the bargain over the last two quarters. In the third quarter alone, Indianapolis mustered just 27 yards of total offense and was forced to punt three times, while another drive ended on a lost fumble by tight end Jack Doyle. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Titans had all the momentum, and they would end up running away with a big division win, on primetime, after having trailed by double digits early in the third quarter.
• FOURTH-AND-1:The Titans had just re-gained the lead, 29-22, with 5:37 left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the Colts offense took the field, hoping to respond with a touchdown of their own that could possibly allow the team to escape Nashville with a victory. Indianapolis got to the Tennessee 22-yard line on that drive when it faced a third-and 10, and Brissett found running back Robert Turbin across the middle, where he was able to get nine yards before being brought down and suffering a painful-looking elbow injury as he braced his fall. On fourth-and-1, without Turbin — the league's best runner when it came to converting third-and-1s into first downs — the Colts ran a QB keeper with Brissett, who sprinted to the right sideline and stretched for the first-down marker as he dove out of bounds. Initially on the field, the officials ruled Brissett was just short; a replay upheld that ruling, unfortunately. "Based on tape and the defense that they had shown – not just this year, going way back – practiced it all week," Pagano said. "It's something that we said we were going to run in this situation. We knew exactly what we were going to run. They executed it and stopped it, and it wasn't like it was just grabbing straws here."
• MILESTONE WATCH:A week after moving into second place all-time in made field goals — and kicking a 51-yard game winner and earning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week accolades — Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri continued to march his way up the record books on Monday. His 36-yard field goal in the first quarter that tied the game at 3 moved him past George Blanda (639) for the third most field goal attempts in NFL history. Also, by playing in Monday's game, Vinatieri passed Jason Hanson (327) for the fifth most regular season games played in NFL history. In all, Vinatieri converted all three of his field goal attempts (including a 52 yarder) against the Titans, and also added an extra point to account for 10 points on the night.