INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Mathis has put the final exclamation point on a few wins in his lengthy career with the Indianapolis Colts, but perhaps none felt better than what he was able to do on Sunday in Nashville.
After the Colts used a seven-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to tight end Jack Doyle to go up 27-23 with two minutes left in the game, it was the defense that would put this thing away for good on the ensuing Tennessee possession, as T.Y. McGill knocked the ball out of quarterback Marcus Mariota's hands, and Mathis would pick it up at the 14-yard line and run it into the end zone from there.
Indianapolis' 34-26 victory was its third of the season, but perhaps most importantly, it took some of the sting out of the previous week's loss to the Houston Texans, in which the Colts had all the control up two scores midway through the fourth quarter before the host Texans came all the way back, and then kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime.
With a non-divisional — but just as important — matchup against the Kansas City Chief coming up on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, we'll first check out the Top 10 quotes from the Colts' road victory over the Titans:
• "Great, great character in that locker room, coaches and players. They refuse to surrender. They know they are a good football team. We can make things a heck of a lot easier on ourselves obviously, if we just get some things cleaned up and we have to do it. We have no choice. It doesn't get any easier, we know that." — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, on how the win against the Titans could possibly be a springboard for the rest of the season.
• "A locker room after a win, you're going to be hard pressed to find a more joyful spot in the world. It's addicting, it really is. You wish you weren't so much a slave to that feeling and that emotion, but I think we are." — Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, on the morale of his team coming off a win at the end of another close game.
• "It shows what kind of guys we have. It shows we have the type of guys that will bounce back and be ready to roll and know that it is a new week. Another week is coming next week, so we will have to forget about this one and get ready to roll again." — Colts tight end Jack Doyle, on what Sunday's win against the Titans does for the team moving forward.
• "One of the best teammates that I have been with. He is going to continue to do everything right every day. I am just proud of him. He always tries to do everything right, and when you do that, things happen for you like this. I'm very happy for him." — Colts running back Frank Gore, asked about tight end Jack Doyle, who continued his career year with nine catches for 78 yards and the game-winning touchdown Sunday against the Titans.
• "Our main thing was just to keep swinging at the tree. You have an ax and you have to keep chopping and keep chopping." — Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, on the team's mindset when it came to going in and finishing Sunday's game.
• "I never really think about and concern myself with personal goals and personal records and stuff. For me, I'm happy that we won the game and that this is a little bit to go along with it. I'm sure I'll sit back some day down the road and enjoy it but just very excited that we got a win today." — Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, whose two field goals on Sunday gave him 43 straight made field goals, a new NFL record.
• "Rob, he's a guy that's found the fountain of youth. He just keeps surprising us, you know? Every single day, every single practice, every single game, he's a guy that I look up to so much, and blessed to be on the team with him. And T.Y., T.Y. McGill — man. The sky's the limit for him. I'm his biggest fan, and I love to see him on the field pass rushing, and he made a major play for us today. And that's huge." — Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones, on the T.Y. McGill strip sack and Robert Mathis' scoop and score to put the Titans away late in the fourth quarter.
• "It's a real blessing, because, of course, a couple years back from now, this wasn't even a conversation in my life. So to have an opportunity to play like a quarterback like (Luck) and have him looking my way, it's just all the blessing to God." — Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox, who had two receptions for 51 yards in the win over the Titans.
• "I think for the most part we came into this game knowing that they have a pretty tough front seven. Sometimes we shot ourselves in the foot a few plays where it kind of put us in third and long, and that's not where we wanted to be. Luckily, when our team needed us the most, we came through. We had some setbacks as well in the red zone, but just kept pushing through. I think that's kind of been the M.O. of this team the entire year has been, no matter what's thrown at us, we just keep persevering; pushing through." — Colts center Ryan Kelly, on the offensive line stepping up when it needed to in Sunday's win against the Titans.
• "Sometimes you've just got to draw a line in the sand, just like we did at halftime, just like we did on the sideline, take a deep breath, and just do your job. Because when you're straining and you're pressing and you're trying so hard, sometimes it just goes the opposite way. And you can't do that. We can't coach like that — I can't. I can't live like that. You can't play the game like that. It just comes down to you guys just keep coming in and working, and working, and working and working and chopping wood and chopping wood." — Pagano, addressing his team in the locker room after Sunday's win over the Titans.