It may have taken Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement and injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, and Marlon Mack to accomplish, but the Titans finally got a much needed win over the Colts to improve to 5-1 in their last 6 games. More significantly, this put them further in the Wild Card and AFC South races at 7-5. A team that struggled to find any consistency for years has now won three games in a row.
So what’s going on? Is this a team finding ways to flirt with a 9-7 finish for the fourth straight season, or are they really attempting to go the distance and hit 11-5? Who knows, but at least they’ve managed to stay competitive after all these years, and under Ryan Tannehill’s leadership they’ve found some consistency!
With that said, what more did we learn about this Titans team against the Colts on Sunday? I’ve got five distinct notes, so let’s go through them right now!
The Offensive Line Is Still A Major Issue
Yeah, after allowing six sacks and nine quarterback hits I don’t think anyone will mention this as a statement game from the pass protection. In fairness, however I felt much of the offensive line’s struggles had to do with failing to contain the Colts’ blitzes than it did with the traditional way of losing 1 on 1 battles vs. the pass rush.
This is one such example of the many times Tannehill saw pressure. Dion Lewis whiffs badly on the linebacker Anthony Walker, forcing the quarterback to try and step up in a last ditch effort to escape duress. Fortunately these pressures didn’t cost Tennessee the game (even when trailing 17-7 in the third quarter!), but it’s still a concerning dilemma heading into Week 14’s showdown with the Raiders.
The Titans Pass Rush Can Step Up
On the flip side, the Titans defense did damage of their own to Jacoby Brissett, collecting three sacks while combining to hit him 10 times.
One key pressure didn’t count as a sack or a hit, but gave the Titans a turnover they badly needed.
Harold Landry had another big game (1 sack, 2 QB hits) and now has a sack in five consecutive games. His biggest play, however, came on this pressure on Brissett. With the secondary containing the routes downfield, Landry is afforded enough time to break through and force an errant throw from Brissett, which is plucked out of the air by the ballhawk himself, Kevin Byard.
This Team Has Had Some Recent Good Fortune On Special Teams
In addition to the Chiefs’ field goal gaffe back in Week 10, we now have another play to add onto the list of fortunate special teams moments for the Titans, and this time it involved a lot more skill.
Of course, this was the biggest play of the game, as Dane Cruishank’s incredible block of Adam Vinatieri’s attempted field goal landed in the arms of Tye Smith, who took it to the house for the 63-yard touchdown. Certainly one of the more improbable special teams plays in the team’s history (This site’s name is dedicated to the Music City Miracle after all!), this has a chance to be a season turning event for a team that’s needed it.
The Team Is 3-1 Against The Jacoby Brissett Led Colts
While never managing to beat the Andrew Luck-led Colts, the Titans have had much greater success against Jacoby Brissett with a 3-1 record against him. These include the days where Mike Mularkey was the head coach and 9-7 automatically meant a playoff appearance. When it seemed like the Titans would concede defeat to Indianapolis once again, they managed to overcome a 17-7 deficit, a poor display from the offensive line, and an attempted go ahead field goal late in the game.
Mike Vrabel Can Dial Up Successful Fourth Down Plays!
Yes, it can’t be done. I haven’t been one to criticize Mike Vrabel for constantly going for it on 4th down, it’s the play calling that’s the issue.
Thankfully this wasn’t the case late in the third quarter with Tennessee trailing by 10 inside the Colts’ red zone. Vrabel would have gotten blasted if this 4th and 1 play was stopped short of the first down, but Derrick Henry made sure that wasn’t going to be the case.
Taylor Lewan gives Henry a huge assist outside on a great block, and Henry does the rest, going beast mode to vindicate Vrabel’s decision to go for it on fourth and short.
BONUS: We Still Love Ryan Tannehill
The Titans just can’t stop winning under Ryan Tannehill, who is gradually making it harder and harder to want to play in 2020 without him. He was contained for most of the game by the Colts defense, but added in a key touchdown and one of the best plays of his career late in the fourth quarter to give the Titans major insurance.
This is a ballsy call on 3rd and 6, but one that put the game to bed for good. Not to mention this is also an absolute rocket across Tannehill’s body to Kalif Raymond, and could not have been thrown any better. This was just Raymond’s fifth catch all season, and the very first touchdown catch of his career! What a way to do it.