Chris Johnson’s Second Half: A Closer Look


Nov 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) is pursued by Indianapolis Colts safety LaRon Landry (30) on a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson carried the ball 13 times for 80 yards and two touchdowns in the first half of Thursday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Titans were winning 17-6 at halftime.

Johnson finished the game with 17 carries for 86 yards, a total of 4 carries for 6 yards in the second half. The Titans lost the game 30-27.

Did the Colts comeback because the Titans struggled to run the ball, or did the Titans struggle to run the ball because the Colts came back?

Chris Johnson: Rushing Statistics (by half)



Yards per Carry


1st Half





2nd Half





After kicking off to start the game, the Colts began the second half with the ball. They proceeded to march all the way down the field, where Donald Brown capped off the 74-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Then, thanks to a Devon Wiley fumble, the Colts scored another touchdown before Tennessee even possessed the ball.

So the Titans, who led 17-6 at halftime, now trailed the Colts 20-17 by the time their offense went out on the field in the second half. Almost 8 minutes had run off the clock. Tennessee needed a big drive here to recapture some of the momentum they had in the first half.

There is no debating the fact that Tennessee had run the ball well in the first half. By halftime, the Titans had already racked up 101 yards on the ground, compared to 38 yards rushing by the Colts. The logical thing to do here would be to come out and reestablish the run-game, build on the success of the first half, and put together a lengthy, clock-consuming drive.

Instead, the Titans came out with three straight pass plays. The first was a screen that went for minus-two yards. On 3rd and 6, Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked. Less than a minute and a half after gaining possession, the Titans were forced to punt.

You will never be able to convince me that the decision to not run the ball even one time on that drive was the smart thing to do. Not after the success in the run game of the first half. Not down by just three points with still a quarter and a half to play. Regardless, the Titans were now at risk of giving up three straight scoring drives to the Colts. Which is exactly what they proceeded to do.

The next time the Titans touched the football, there was just 1:27 remaining in the third quarter, and the score was now 23-17.

Chris Johnson ran the ball twice for seven yards to start the drive. The Titans picked up a couple of first downs through the air on the next two plays, and then it was back to the ground game with Chris Johnson. This was the offense the Titans needed to be running if they wanted to have any chance of winning the game. This balanced attack was the reason they had a 17-3 lead at one point in the first half.

The drive eventually stalled out thanks in large part to a holding penalty committed by guard Andy Levitre. The Titans had to settle for a field goal, which made the score 23-20 in favor of Indianapolis. It was okay, though. This was a drive the Titans could build off of going forward.

The defense forced a punt on the Colts next possession, and the Titans got the ball back with just under ten minutes remaining in the game at their own 9-yard line. One long touchdown drive here would most likely mean a win for Tennessee.

But the drive only lasted five plays for a pick-up of just twenty yards. Chris Johnson got the ball just one time on a play where he was met in the backfield by multiple defenders, and he lost two yards. The Titans had to punt, and it ended up costing them the game.

That two-yard loss was Chris Johnson’s last carry of the game. The Colts ability to sustain long, clock-eating drives contributed mightily to Johnson’s lack of second-half workload, as did the fact that the Titans offense never had the ball with a lead in the second half. Despite all of that, the Titans still had plenty of chances to get Chris Johnson involved in the second half, and they chose not to do so. The end result was an embarrassing 10 minutes and 27 seconds time of possession in the second half for the Titans, a number that was almost doubled by their opponent.

Chris Johnson has rushed for fewer than 10 yards in the second half fifteen times in his career.

The Titans are 3-12 in those games.