INDIANAPOLIS --The Colts tightened their grip Sunday on a potential AFC South title and at least one home game in the playoffs. It's practically a vise grip now.
Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals, tying his career high, and the Colts' opportunistic defense came up with four takeaways to power Indianapolis to a 22-14 victory over the visiting Tennessee Titans. The Indy offense did its part, scoring a touchdown on a run-dominated, 92-yard drive that gave the Colts breathing room with 1:56 remaining.
"A grind-it-out win, that's for sure," said Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who completed 17-of-32 passes for 200 yards and also rushed for 42 yards.
The Colts' triumph over Tennessee completed a season sweep against their divisional rival and elevated Indy's record to 8-4. Tennessee dropped to 5-7. With one more victory for the Colts in their last four games, the AFC South crown and a home playoff appearance will be locked in place.
"We're not exhaling," insisted Colts Coach Chuck Pagano, referring to the team's approach for the stretch run. "The division is not sewn up."
Sunday, the Colts trailed in numerous statistical categories. Tennessee led in first downs (24-18), in total yards (347-264) and in rushing yards (162-104). But the Colts reigned in one very important category: turnover ratio.
Indy intercepted three Ryan Fitzpatrick passes. Jerrell Freeman also recovered a Fitzpatrick fumble after a strip-sack by Robert Mathis. Two of Tennessee's four turnovers led to field goals by Vinatieri.
Perhaps Indy's biggest takeaway came in the final minute of the game when an interception by Freeman ended the visitors' drive to tie the score.
"I'm really proud of the defense playing the way they did," Pagano said. "They were asked time and time and time again to go out there and make stops. … The turnovers were huge."
One possession before Freeman's interception, the Colts' offense came alive for its lone TD of the day. Luck ran the ball twice for 32 yards and a pair of first downs. Donald Brown produced 46 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown, on six rushing attempts.
"(Brown) deserves all the praise and recognition for a game like this," Luck said about his running back.
Said Pagano about his team's last offensive drive: " … Division hanging in the balance, everything on the line, and the guys manned up."
FIRST QUARTER (6:09 remaining)
The Colts jumped on the scoreboard first with a 47-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. Quarterback Andrew Luck helped set up the score by hitting 5-of-6 passes for 50 yards. Two of the passes went to Coby Fleener for 37 yards.Colts 3, Titans 0.
FIRST QUARTER (2:33 remaining)
Vinatieri added another field goal for Indy, connecting from 48 yards. One big play put the Colts in position: Luck hit Darrius Heyward-Bey on a crossing pattern for a 23-yard reception.Colts 6, Titans 0.
SECOND QUARTER (13:13 remaining)
The Titans marched 80 yards in 10 plays for their first score, a one-yard quarterback sneak by Ryan Fitzpatrick. The big play in the drive was a 31-yard pass completion, Fitzpatrick to Nate Washington. Fitzpatrick scrambled 16 yards for another first down. Rob Bironas added the extra point.Titans 7, Colts 6.
SECOND QUARTER (10:26 remaining)
Two nice passing plays and a pass interference call put the Colts in position for another Vinatieri field goal, this one from 45 yards. Luck completed passes of 17 yards to LaVon Brazill and 19 yards to Stanley Havili. The 26-yard penalty against the Titans helped Indy's cause.Colts 9, Titans 7.
SECOND QUARTER (00:00 remaining)
Former Colt Moise Fokou committed an unnecessary roughness foul against his old team, putting Indy in position for a Vinatieri field goal from 37 yards. Here's how the final score of the half came about: On third down from the Colts' 46-yard line, Luck passed to T.Y. Hilton for 20 yards. Fokou was flagged as the play transpired. The penalty yardage against Fokou was tacked onto the passing gain, moving the ball to the Tennessee 19, well within Vinatieri's range. Colts 12, Titans 7.
THIRD QUARTER (7:29 remaining)
The Titans took the opening kickoff of the second half and used 7:31 to go 80 yards in 14 plays. The final play looked awkward but proved effective. On fourth down at the 1-yard line, Fitzpatrick rolled to his right and tossed a jump-pass to Chris Johnson for the touchdown. Bironas added the extra point. Titans 14, Colts 12.
THIRD QUARTER (2:33 remaining)
Vinatieri booted his fifth field goal of the game, this time from 49 yards. The score was set up by Robert Mathis' strip-sack of Fitzpatrick and a fumble return of 24 yards by Jerrell Freeman. Vinatieri's kick tied the club record for field goals in a game and also tied his career high, which he has accomplished three times.Colts 15, Titans 14.
FOURTH QUARTER (1:56 remaining)
Luck ran for 32 yards and Donald Brown rushed for 46 as the Colts mounted a 92-yard drive to extend their lead. Brown scored the touchdown from the 4. Vinatieri added the extra point.Colts 22, Titans 14.