BIG PLAYS LACKING FOR JOHNSON – Every time Chris Johnson touched the ball on Sunday, Colts fans were holding their breath knowing his ability to break any run at a given time.
Fortunately, there was a lot of exhaling in Lucas Oil Stadium as Johnson was limited to 44 rushing yards on 19 carries, his lowest output in more than two months.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic was Johnson's long rush on the afternoon was eight yards, the shortest game total he has had since week two.
"I thought our secondary tackled extremely well," Colts Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians said. "(Johnson) is such a threat, and that's going to put our corners in a bind sometimes because we're going to drop our safeties in there and they're going to be one-on-one. We gave up a couple chunks, but overall I was pretty pleased."
Several times on Sunday starting cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Cassius Vaughn wrapped up Johnson on the outside while not losing containment.
The secondary had two critical second-half takeaways against the Titans, but it was the tackling in open space that helped the unit allow just three second-half points.
"In this league, you have to be a complete corner," Davis, who had three tackles for losses, said. "When the ball gets out to the edges, the only players to make the tackles there are the corners. Cassius (Vaughn) played a good game as far as coming up and tackling well, and, of course, he had the interception. We just work every day in practice to get better on the little things."
In the teams' first meeting on October 28, the Colts held Johnson to 99 rushing yards on 21 attempts. In the two victories this season, Indianapolis kept the Pro Bowl running back at a 3.6 average. Johnson's seasonal average is 4.7 yards per rush.
While Davis and Vaughn joined Jerrell Freeman with a team-high eight tackles, keeping a player like Johnson stymied was a total unit effort.
"I think the big thing is collectively having everybody do their job," outside linebacker Dwight Freeney said. "He's a guy where he can take it in any hole at any time. It's important that 11 guys are accountable in their gaps, making sure they are doing their responsibility, not doing too much."
WAYNE AND VINATIERI CONTINUE TO SHOW AGE IS MERELY A NUMBER –Down 13 points at halftime, the Colts turned to a pair of veterans with a combined 29 years of NFL experience to help forge yet another second-half comeback.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne made a pair of third-down catches to open up the first drive of the second-half. Wayne had a 12-yard catch on third-and-nine, then had a 20-yarder on third-and-11. The receptions helped set up Delone Carter's one-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 20-14 with 8:36 remaining in the third quarter.
In all, Wayne's six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown helped him continue to rise in the NFL record books.
Wayne has 956 career receptions, which move him past Andre Reed and into 10th-place on the league's all-time list.
The six catches gave Wayne 103 career receptions against the Titans, the third team he has reached the 100-plateau against (133, Jacksonville, 117, Houston). He is now the eighth player in NFL history to total 100 catches against at least three teams.
The 64 reception yards gave Wayne 1,220 for the season, and it marks the sixth season in his career he has recorded at least 1,200 reception yards. He tied Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt for the third-most seasons with at least 1,200 yards. Jerry Rice holds the record with 11 seasons, followed by Randy Moss with eight.
Vinatieri is the lone player on the Colts roster who has played in more games than Wayne, and the 39-year old kicker showed he still has plenty of leg on Sunday.
With the Colts trailing 23-21 midway through the fourth quarter and a potential game-winning drive stalling, Vinatieri nailed a 53-yard field goal, tying his season-long.
"It's nice to have that opportunity to be able to go out there and help the team put some points on the board and get that lead so the defense can go out there and do their thing," Vinatieri said.
Vinatieri added a 40-yard field goal on the Colts' next drive, and his nine points Sunday give him 1,850 for his 17-year NFL career.
"He's always there in the clutch," Arians said of Vinatieri. "He's like the hidden weapon all the time. He was hitting it at 60 (yards in) pre-game, so he had a great leg today. There was never a doubt we were kicking that field goal. He is a clutch man, and I'm glad he's on our team."