NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It wasn't always pretty, but the Indianapolis Colts now have a notch in the 'Win' column after pulling off a 19-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans in their Week 2 divisional showdown at Nissan Stadium.
The win is the Colts' 14th out of their last 16 games against the Titans, and it's their first AFC South Division win of the young 2019 regular season.
The Colts trailed for much of the second half on Sunday after the Titans scored on a one-yard rushing touchdown on their first drive of the third quarter, but the Colts showed resolve in forming a 69-yard drive that spanned just four plays and two minutes with less than half of the fourth quarter remaining to put them up for good.
After the Colts' defense forced a three-and-out midway through the fourth quarter, Chester Rogers fielded the ensuing Titans punt and returned it 11 yards to put the Colts in positive field position to begin their next drive at their own 31-yard line.
On first down, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett dumped off a short pass to running back Marlon Mack down the middle of the field for a modest three-yard gain.
On 2nd and 7, Mack then carried the ball up the middle and picked up the necessary seven yards to move the sticks and set up a new set of downs.
The next play would set the entire drive up for success, however, as second-year running back Jordan Wilkins entered the backfield, spelling Mack on a hot, muggy afternoon in Nashville.
Lined up behind Brissett in the single-back formation on 2nd & 7 at the Colts' own 41-yard line, Wilkins took the counter handoff off the right side. Running behind center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith on the line, as well as tight ends Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron, the blockers locked up Tennessee's defenders, and Wilkins had nothing but daylight to run through.
He took the ball deep down the right side of the field before lowering a shoulder and finally being tackled out of bounds by safety Kenny Vaccaro at the Titans' 4-yard line, settings up 1st & Goal inside the 5-yard line after his 55-yard scamper.
It would only take the Colts one more play to score after Wilkins' run as Brissett lofted a beautiful pass near the back, left corner of the end zone into the waiting arms of wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had a step on Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler for the touchdown.
The ensuing extra-point attempt by kicker Adam Vinatieri was no good after striking the right upright, but the Colts had a narrow 19-17 lead with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the game. They'd hold on from their for win No. 1.
"Right up the seam, right off Glowinski and Ryan Kelly. The whole O-line did a great job and freed me," Wilkins told reporters after the game of his big run. "The safeties were split, so I just had to make a right turn, and then I just raced for the pylon."
While a foot injury hampered Wilkins towards the tail end of training camp, keeping him out of all four preseason games, Colts head coach Frank Reich said a strong offseason of work for the second-year running back made big plays like Sunday's possible.
"Yeah, Jordan looked great," Reich said. "I've seen it the whole offseason, he's looked good, and of course (he's) just getting back from his injury. He played last week — we didn't want to put any running back reps on him last week. And then today with the weather being as hot as it was, there was just a little bit more natural of a rotation, and Jordan took advantage of that."
Brissett had perhaps the best seat in the house for Wilkins' long run.
"Oh, man. It was awesome, man," Brissett said. "He's been hurt, he came back and battled back, and (I) watched him rehab.
"I was standing behind him and I saw the O-line crease it for him. It was pretty cool to see from the back view. Like you saw last week, our O-line, when we wanna run the ball we know that we have the guys up front to do it."