The Titans’ 2018 season ended in Nashville tonight as they dropped their season finale to the Colts. It was a respectable effort from Mike Vrabel’s team, considering the injuries they were dealing with. Unfortunately, Blaine Gabbert just couldn’t keep pace with Andrew Luck tonight, as we all suspected.
Andrew Luck starts hot
It’s been well documented that the Titans have never beaten Andrew Luck. Early on, he was doing everything in his power to make sure it stayed that way. A quick Tennessee punt started his first drive at the Colts’ eight yard line.
12 plays and 92 yards, the Colts were up 7-0. Luck went 7-8 on the drive, carving up Dean Pees’ defense with ease. Luck’s next drive started at his own ten, but produced the exact same result. He found Eric Ebron in the endzone for six more, taking firm control of this game in the early stages.
Titans struggle offensively out of the gate
Without Marcus Mariota, the Titans predictably struggled to move the football. Blaine Gabbert couldn’t replicate the success he found last week against the Redskins, looking jittery and uncomfortable early on. The Titans couldn’t move the chains, which kept their best weapon in Derrick Henry on the sidelines.
Jayon Brown pick-six
Down 14-0, things seemed lost for the Titans in the second quarter. Andrew Luck was getting the ball back and ready to put this one out of reach. Instead of doing that, he let the Titans right back into this one with a pick six. Jayon Brown capitalized on the Titans getting some pressure on Luck, grabbing an easy pick and finishing the play in the endzone.
Adoree’s disaster — and bailout
The momentum from the pick-six seemed to carry over. Tennessee got their first stop of the day, forcing a Colts’ punt. The Titans were going to have a shot to go tie the game, but Adoree Jackson muffed the punt. Indianapolis recovered, setting themselves up in the Titans’ redzone.
Jackson didn’t initially field the punt, but tried to take it on a bounce. It bounced right off his hands and the Colts recovered. Luckily for him, Jayon Brown was playing the half of his life. Brown poked the ball free from Marlon Mack, then recovered it himself. It was a strange sequence that ended up keeping the Titans breathing for the time being.
The Titans were fortunate to be down just 17-10 at halftime.
A game-changing penalty
Out of the halftime break, the Titans appeared to have stopped Luck once again, following a couple of big penalties. A 2nd and 25 turned into 3rd and 18. Luck threw an incompletion, but Malcolm Butler was hit with a defensive pass interference call. There was some contact there, but nothing all that major. Still, T.Y. Hilton was well short of the sticks. Butler’s contact there wasn’t necessary, regardless if it was pass interference worthy or not.
Luck capitalized two plays later, throwing another touchdown to extend Indy’s lead to 14 points.
Welcome to the game, Titans’ offense
After trading a couple of punts, Derrick Henry finally busted one open. It was a 33 yard gain and the Titans didn’t waste any time finishing this drive off. Gabbert found Luke Stocker in the flats and Stocker did the rest, barreling into the endzone. Somehow, the Titans were within seven entering the fourth quarter.
The Titans got the stop they needed to follow. Gabbert hit Corey Davis for 21 yards to get out of a hole on the goal line. Just when the Titans seemed to have all the momentum needed for a try at the tie, Blaine Gabbert did what he couldn’t do.
Gabbert’s drive-ending, momentum destroying turnover
Tennessee was actually driving and making a legitimate attempt to tie the game in the fourth quarter. However, Gabbert was faced with a 3rd and 10 from around midfield. He scrambled right, zeroed in on Taywan Taylor and found a Colt instead.
It was a devastating blow to the Titans, who had scratched and clawed their way back into this one.
Luck and the Colts only added three points, but that was enough to make it a two score game. Unfortunately with under four minutes to play, that was enough to end this one.
The Titans end 2018 with a 9-7 mark, just barely missing out on the playoffs. Focus will now turn to Marcus Mariota once again as we all try to figure out what’s going on with his nerve issue.