Well, that’s how you rebound. The Colts were gored by the Rams with a 30-point blowout just four days ago and things looked bleak on Thursday night as the Titans took an early two-touchdown lead.
But before you had a chance to start tweeting “Andrew Luck is overrated,” the second-year quarterback led the Colts offense to 20 unanswered points and an eventual 30-27 victory on the road.
“I think we just settled down,” Luck said on NFL Network after the game. “Once we got some positive momentum, that made for good overall momentum for the game.”
“We’re fortunate to survive our mistakes.”
Speaking of momentum, the Colts (7-3) have a comfy three-game cushion in the AFC South over the second-place Titans, who fell to 4-6 with the loss. After taking on the Cardinals in Week 12, Indy faces Tennessee again, but this time at home. The Colts can wrap up this division race pretty soon.
That’s being said, let’s get into what we can take away from this game.
Andrew Luck is really smart
Like really, really smart. I know what you’re saying: “Well, duh, he went to Stanford!”
Let’s take one play from Thursday night to illustrate this fact:
Luck took a short drop after a snap in the third quarter and looked to hit Griff Whalen in the slot. Nope, not with a defender right in his way. OK, no problem, Luck just pulled the ball down and took it the 11 yards into the end zone himself.
Impossible to defend that. Suddenly, the Colts had the lead and they never looked back. Luck’s ability to scramble and improvise is very underrated as he continues to cause defensive coordinator headaches. He doesn’t have the speed of a Johnny Manziel or a Michael Vick, but what he has in spades is instinct. You can’t coach that.
Is it any surprise that Luck has yet to lose back-to-back games in his career? Not at all. What’s also impressive is that he continues to find ways to step up and dig his team out of holes.
“We definitely don’t want to do it,” Luck said of the Colts’ tendency to start slow in games. “But at the end of the day, winning is what matters.”
That touchdown run? That was Luck’s eighth over the past two seasons, which is equal to Titans running back Chris Johnson. Oh, speaking of Chris Johnson …
Chris Johnson made his fantasy owners happy … for one quarter
Consider this: Coming into Thursday’s game, CJ2K has scored just two touchdowns all season. He matched that in the opening frame against the Colts. First, he ripped off a 30-yard scoring run on the Titans’ first drive of the game:
Then, he showed some strength, lowering his shoulder and taking out Antoine Bethea on this 7-yard TD scamper:
Johnson had 80 yards rushing at the end of the first quarter. BUT … he finished with 86 for the game as fantasy owners continued to pull the hair out of their heads. But, on the surface, they have to be happy with Johnson’s effort. That’s a whole lot better than the 30 yards he put up against the Jaguars in Week 10. And the 33 he had against the Seahawks … and the 21 against the Jets … and the 17 against the Chiefs.
You get the picture.
Bad teams give opponents that critical break
You are what your record is, and the 4-6 Titans definitely aren’t good. It’s easy to find proof. After the Colts scored on their opening possession of the second half, the Titans still had a four-point lead. As long as they could avoid making mistakes, everything would be fine.
Oh, wait …
Yup, that’s Devon Wylie putting the ball on the rug on the kickoff. The Colts recovered of course, and a couple plays later, Luck came through with the touchdown run that put Indy out in front.
All too easy. Didn’t you almost expect that to happen?
Trent Richardson doesn’t have it
And I’m not talking about his physical tools, because they’re all there. Bulk, toughness, the whole nine yards. But then the running back gets out on the field and just … plods along.
Richardson continued his streak of subpar games on Thursday night, running for 22 yards on eight carries as he just couldn’t find the gaps in the Titans defense. In fact, he had just 59 rushing yards in his three previous outings combined and has yet to run for more than 60 yards in a game this season.
It got so bad that the Colts went with backup Donald Brown as the primary ball carrier midway through the second quarter. Guess what? Brown was able to find the holes Richardson couldn’t see.
Brown racked up 94 total yards and two touchdowns, including the score that more or less put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter:
Notice the patience Brown uses on the play. He lets his blocks develop and once he spots the gap, explodes upfield and gets to end zone virtually untouched. Try as he might, we’ve yet to see runs like that from Richardson this season.
Do you think the Colts regret trading for Richardson earlier this season? Maybe they do.
Vegas oddsmakers are one smart group
Don’t believe us? Ask those who were planning how to spend their financial windfall when the three-point favorite Colts had a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Then, disaster struck when Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Delanie Walker on a 19-yard touchdown pass with just 1:04 left in the game.
So, all those who bet on the Colts to cover had the victory snatched out of their hands. The Colts did win by three, so those bettors got their money back, but still … what a cruel way to push.
You don’t have to pay cheerleaders
Check out this guy:
He seems to be able handle the rhythm just fine. Sign him up immediately!
Harvard has to lick its wounds
After all, the Crimson faithful had to watch the Stanford-educated Luck get past Tennessee quarterback — and Harvard grad — Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Oh well, all those Harvard people will just have to go back to their high-paying jobs and wonderful lives and … actually, they’re probably not unhappy at all. Do they even watch football?