Titans hoping 10th time is the charm as they head to Indy
The Tennessee Titans will try to snap a nine-year losing streak at Lucas Oil Stadium when they visit the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee (6-4) has not beaten the Colts on the road since Dec. 30, 2007, when Vince Young and Kerry Collins split quarterback duties in 16-10 win. Since then, the Titans have gone 0-9 in Indianapolis, and they failed to reach the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons.
Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey would like to reverse both of those storylines. He is keeping a narrow focus as the Titans enter the weekend within a game of the first-place Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South.
"We're looking at what we have to do, and we have to win a division game on the road, and that's all we're focused on," Mularkey said. "Nothing else will be talked about other than that all week."
Indianapolis (3-7) is eager to bounce back after dropping four of its past five games. Injuries and inconsistency have hampered the Colts, who are one loss away from securing their third straight season without a winning record under embattled coach Chuck Pagano.
Both teams will be well rested entering the Week 12 matchup. The Colts are coming off a bye and have not played since Nov. 12, when they lost 20-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans will play on nine days' rest after a Thursday night matchup in Week 11 in which they were embarrassed in a 40-17 loss to the Steelers.
Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett is expected to make his 10th start. He began the week in the NFL's concussion protocol after Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt hit him in the back of the head in his previous game.
Brissett has an 86.7 passer rating this season with 2,172 passing yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. The 23-year-old also has scrambled for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Veteran Frank Gore anchors the running game for the Colts. He has compiled 509 rushing yards and two touchdowns this season and ranks No. 7 in NFL history with 13,574 career rushing yards. He needs 89 rushing yards to pass Jerome Bettis (13,662 yards) for sixth place on the league's all-time list, and he needs 111 yards to pass LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684 yards) for fifth place.
Gore, 34, is far more focused on trying to turn around a frustrating season for the Colts.
"The bye week was good," Gore told the team's official website. "Now we need to get ready for a division game and still got a chance, especially looking at the AFC. There's the wild card, two games out. We've just got to continue believing in ourselves, keep working and go out there Sunday and try to get a win."
In the passing game, T.Y. Hilton leads the Colts with 36 catches for 725 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 20.1 yards per reception.
Tennessee's offense is led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will try to recover from a miserable game against the Steelers in which he threw four interceptions. The performance lowered Mariota's season passer rating to 79.9 (2,089 passing yards, eight touchdowns, 10 interceptions). He also has rushed for 186 yards and four touchdowns.
DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry present a challenging one-two punch in the Titans' rushing attack. Murray has rushed for 443 yards and four touchdowns, while Henry has amassed 441 rushing yards and three scores.
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews leads Tennessee with 626 receiving yards to go along with three touchdowns. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker has a team-high 49 receptions for 550 yards but remains in search of his first touchdown of the season. His next reception will cement his fifth consecutive season with 50-plus catches.
The Colts' secondary will try to limit big plays by Mariota and the rest of the Titans' offense. Top defenders on Indianapolis include safety Malik Hooker (three interceptions) and linebacker Jabaal Sheard (4 1/2 sacks).
Tennessee's top-tier defender this season is safety Kevin Byard, who leads the league with six interceptions and has his eyes on a postseason run and possible Pro Bowl selection. Linebacker Derrick Morgan (six sacks) and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (three sacks) have proved to be the most effective pass rushers.
The Sunday game will be the second meeting of the year between the Colts and Titans. In Week 6, the Titans stormed to a 36-22 victory thanks to a strong finish. Tennessee trailed 19-15 after three quarters before outscoring the Colts 21-3 in the fourth.
Indianapolis is 2-3 at home this season. Tennessee sports an identical 2-3 record on the road.