Titans lead AFC South with win in Indianapolis

Marcus Mariota quarterbacks the Titans. (photo: Donn Jones/titansonline.com)

Marcus Mariota quarterbacks the Titans.(photo: Donn Jones/titansonline.com)

The Tennessee Titans won their first game in Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday. After falling behind, they finished off the Colts, rallying from a 10-point deficit to pull out a critical 20-16 win. It gave the Titans their first series sweep over the Colts since the 2002 season. More importantly it improved the team’s record to 7-4. The Titans are once again tied for first atop the AFC South with the 7-4 Jacksonville Jaguars, who lost to the Cardinals on Sunday. The Titans hold the tie-breaker now, having beaten the Jags in Jacksonville 37-16 in the second game of the season.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 17-of-25 passes for 184 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Derrick Henry played a key role down the stretch, and he finished the game with 79 yards – all of them coming during the fourth quarter, when the Titans rallied, and closed the deal.

The Titans took a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 29-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop. It capped off an 11-play, 53-yard drive that included a 17-yard completion from Mariota to receiver Eric Decker on third-and-seven. The Titans extended the lead to 6-0 on another Succop field goal, this one from 45 yards.

The Colts tied the game on back-to-back field goals by kicker Adam Vinatieri, and then took a 13-6 lead at the half on a 14-yard touchdown run by running back Frank Gore. Vinatieri’s third field goal of the game made it 16-6 midway through the third quarter.

The Titans got a much-needed break, trailing 16-6 late in the third quarter when Titans safety Kevin Byard recovered a fumble at the Indianapolis 4-yard line. Mariota then connected with Delanie Walker for a two-yard touchdown, which cut the lead to 16-13 with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter.

A nine-play, 77-yard drive capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by running back DeMarco Murray gave the Titans a 20-16 lead with 5:59 left, which was the final score on the day.The Titans defense made plays all game, sacking Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett eight times in the contest.

“This was huge for us,” center Ben Jones said. “We needed to get back on track, and it’s another division win, and that puts us that much closer to where we want to be in the end.”

The Titans are now 3-1 vs AFC South opponents, and if the playoffs were to begin now, the Titans would be in as AFC South Champions due to their tie-breaker with Jacksonville. The two teams meet at the end of the season on December 31 in Nissan Stadium in what could very well be the AFC South championship game.

The Titans face the 5-6 or 4-7 Houston Texans on Sunday, December 3 at Nissan Stadium. (The Texans and the Baltimore Ravens faced off on Monday Night Football; results were unavailable at press time). Kickoff is set for 12 Noon Central Standard Time, and the game will be carried live locally in Nashville on WTVF NewsChannel Five.