Tennessee Titans: Why Sunday’s ending was no surprise
By P. L. Colter
The race for this year’s AFC South title got off to a wild and wacky start Sunday, when the Tennessee Titans fell to the Indianapolis Colts 35-33 in the season’s first matchup between divisional foes.
Fake punts, defensive touchdowns, momentum swings, points galore, and another historic moment for rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota…
You name it…this game had it.
While Titans fans are still reeling from blowing a 13 point 4th quarter lead, I caution you from drawing an over-the-cliff, all is lost conclusion for the season.
If you analyse both rosters, as well as the key contributors for both teams in that game, then you will see that Sunday’s ending, however painful, was no surprise.
First, the Titans’ key contributors.
Marcus Mariota set a Titans rookie franchise record by throwing for 376 yards yesterday.
Second year running back Antonio Andrews saw his first action of the regular season. He led the team in attempts, and averaged over 4 yards a carry. His 8 yard touchdown run (first of his career) gave the Titans their first lead of the game early in the third quarter.
Rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham grabbed his second touchdown in as many games, giving Tennessee a 10 point lead in the third quarter.
And rookie fullback Jalston Fowler scored his first career touchdown with 47 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, setting the scene for his now infamous failed 2-point conversion attempt to tie the game at 35.
What do these players have in common? They are all young and extremely inexperienced.
Now, the Colts’ key contributors Sunday.
Preseason league MVP candidate Andrew Luck shook off a two and a half game slump to start the season, to throw two fourth quarter touchdowns in less than a minute of game time. That put Indy back in the lead, which of course, they never relinquished again.
Running back Frank Gore dove into the fountain of youth, and delivered a performance that reminded us why he is a five time Pro Bowler. His 1st quarter touchdown gave the Colts the early lead, and his 4th quarter touchdown capped Indy’s comeback with just under three minutes remaining. He averaged six yards a carry.
Defensive back Dwight Lowery‘s pick-six in the second quarter provided the game’s first momentum swing. The Titans were driving to tie the score at 7, but found themselves in an early 14-0 hole thanks to the eight year veteran. For an encore, Lowery’s fourth quarter interception of Mariota put the Colts in position to regain the lead.
What do these players have in common? They are all savvy veterans, that have been in and flourished in these types of situations before.
If you notice, the Colts’ key contributors did the bulk of their damage late in the game, at winning time.The Titans made most of their mistakes then.
Lets remember. Tennessee is rebuilding this year. They have a very young nucleus of role players, especially on offense. Young players that were given a humble reminder of how hard it is to win at this level.
Indianapolis is the better team, a veteran-laden team with an All Pro caliber qb. They’ve reached the playoffs each of the last three years for a reason. And with their season on the line, the Colts were simply not going to be denied.
The Titans and their fans have plenty to look forward to when they return from their bye week, They are currently in a four way tie for the division lead, with a three game home stand on the horizon.
Don’t let the identical 1-2 record from last year discourage you, this is a completely different Titans team. Besides, Andrew Luck has brought the Colts from behind on far better teams than Tennessee over his career.
The Titans are still learning how to win, it’s a process. They’re still ahead of schedule on their rebuilding project.
Next: Your weekly reminder that Marcus Mariota is great