Vaughn Once Again Wrecks Titans— In last year's Colts/Titans contest at Lucas Oil Stadium, Cassius Vaughn was a nightmare for the Tennessee offense.
Along with eight tackles on the afternoon, it was Vaughn's pick six in the third quarter that gave the Colts a 21-20 lead. The Colts would go on to win 27-23 on that December afternoon.
Nearly a year later, there was Vaughn with a career-high two interceptions on Sunday.
"I knew we needed to step up on defense and I felt like our whole defense stepped up out there," Vaughn said after his two interceptions.
"I felt like (Sunday) I wanted to be the best corner on the field."
The Colts defense had not recorded an interception since Oct. 20 but on Sunday the unit picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick three times.
"We all played well out there. It was not just me," Vaughn said of the Colts defense. "The rush matched the backend and we made the plays that we are supposed to make back there."
Vaughn's first interception came when Fitzpatrick over threw Kendall Wright with under a minute to play in the first half. The Colts would turn Vaughn's interception into three points with Adam Vinatieri kicking a 37-yard field goal at the halftime gun.
The second pick for Vaughn came late in the third quarter after the Colts had just taken a 15-14 lead.
On a third-and-four from the Titans 39-yard line, Vaughn stepped in front of a pass intended for Nate Washington and picked off Fitzpatrick.
"He's a veteran, he's had a lot of playing time so it's no surprise," Chuck Pagano said of Vaughn. "Cassius had a great game."
Colts Defense Stands Tall— From timely turnovers to key third-down stops, the Colts defense put together their finest performance in over a month on Sunday afternoon.
The Titans offense had 13 possessions on Sunday and 11 of those ended in punts or turnovers.
"Really proud of the defense playing the way they did," Chuck Pagano said after the game. "They were asked time and time and time again to go out there and make stops and got off the field against a team that came in doing a really good job on third down. The turnovers were huge and then getting off obviously the last one and the two-minute drill was major."
The turnovers came by players that have made significant plays all season long in Robert Mathis and Jerrell Freeman.
Then there was Cassius Vaughn coming off the bench to record a career-high two interceptions.
The four takeaways for the Colts are the most the defense has accounted for in 2013.
For the Colts defense, it all starts with stopping the run and the unit once again did a great job neutralizing Titans running back Chris Johnson.
In Johnson's last 27 carries against the Colts, he has gained just 85 yards (3.1 yards per carry).
"It took every man that was donning a jersey on that side of the ball to get the job done," Pagano said of the defense. "Every one of them that played tonight went in there and gave everything they've got and again, getting off the field was a major emphasis during the week, and obviously we're always stressing turnovers. We haven't got any of late and to get the turnovers today was a huge factor in this win."
A Trio of Lineup Changes-The news broke early Sunday morning that some lineup changes were coming the Colts way on Sunday.
-Donald Brown for Trent Richardson at running back.
-Jeff Linkenbach for Mike McGlynn at right guard.
-Darius Butler for Cassius Vaughn at left cornerback.
Brown played 49 offensive snaps out of 65 on Sunday and finished the game with 54 rushing yards on 14 carries (3.9 yards per carry). Richardson played 13 snaps and had 5 five carries for 19 yards (3.8 yards per carry).
Linkenbach played all 65 snaps at right guard with McGlynn coming in on the goal line as a tackle eligible for Brown's four-yard touchdown run.
Butler played all 75 defensive snaps and was second on the team with eight tackles and one pass deflection. Vaughn flourished in a nickel role with two interceptions and played 46 defensive snaps.
"They earned the opportunity," Pagano said of the new starters. "Donnie (Donald Brown) earned the opportunity the way he was working and running the football. Felt like, we're still going to use two backs, but earned the opportunity to get in there and do that. Link (Jeff Linkenbach), just wanted to give him an opportunity at right guard. We'll look at the tape moving forward. Mike McGlynn has helped us win a lot of football games and he's a good football player. It's nothing against Mike but just wanted to give Link a shot. Just felt like when we were in our base package, wanted to use D-Buts (Darius Butler) outside and keep Cas (Cassius Vaughn) playing the nickel and the sub."
"We're always trying to just make decisions based on what's best for the team and what gives us the best chance to win. We just made a decision to give a couple guys an opportunity and move forward. That doesn't mean, those other guys like you asked, they're pros, they're professionals. They came to work. They understand. They prepared and they were ready to go."