The Tennessee Titans have seen late-game heroics similar to what Andrew Luck has produced for the Indianapolis Colts. They simply have not seen them yet out of current quarterback Jake Locker.
Luck, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, has led the Colts on five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime which is tied for the most by a rookie since the NFL-AFL merger of 1970. The others with five were Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 and — that’s right — Tennessee’s Vince Young in 2006.
That’s more than half of Indianapolis’ victories thus far as they prepare to host the Titans on Sunday (noon, CBS).
“Obviously, they’re finding a way to win football games and doing a great job at 8-4,” Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge to go in there.”
Luck’s five game-winning drives include the Oct. 28 contest at LP Field, when he led the Colts 80 yards in 14 plays for a game-tying touchdown with 3:24 to play then directed a nine-play, 80-yard march to open overtime capped by his 16-yard touchdown pass to running back Vick Ballard.
The Titans never trailed in that game until Ballard’s touchdown.
Luck and Young also are two of only three rookie quarterbacks since 1960 to overcome a deficit of 18 points or more and win. Luck did it in Week 5 against Green Bay when he helped Indianapolis win 30-27 in a game it trailed 21-3 at halftime. Young brought the Titans back from 21 down against the New York Giants in 2006.
The only other one to do so was John Elway with Denver in 1983.
Last Sunday, Luck connected with wide receiver Donnie Avery on the final play to give the Colts a 35-33 victory over Detroit. He also threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds to play against Green Bay back in Week 5. Thus, he is the first rookie quarterback ever with two game-winning throws inside the final two minutes of regulation.
His heroics started in Week 2 when he the Indianapolis offense took possession with 31 seconds left against Minnesota in a game that was tied 20-20. He moved the offense 45 yards in 19 seconds to get up Adam Vinatieri’s decisive 53-yard field goal.
Locker’s finest moment thus far was the drive in overtime against Detroit that led to a field goal, which the Lions had the chance but failed to answer. Two games ago he threw an interception after the Titans, trailing Jacksonville by two, got the ball with 3:28 to play.
“We want to win football games,” Munchak said. “That’s what it’s about. We’re going to end up doing a lot of that with [Locker], and hopefully, you’ll see that the next four weeks as we finish up the season.”
The Colts already have seen it with Luck.
Other notable numbers connected to Sunday’s contest at Lucas Oil Stadium:
2 – times the Titans have held their opponent to fewer than 20 points this season. They won only one of those two. The loss was to Indianapolis, 19-13. They were 8-1 last season when they allowed 20 or fewer.
4 – consecutive games against the Colts in which Chris Johnson has failed to rush for 100 yards or more. He came close in the last meeting with 99 yards on 21 attempts. In eight career appearances against Indianapolis he has hit the 100-yard mark just twice and has gained as few a 34 yards (twice).
7 – yards Johnson needs to reach 1,000 for the fifth time in as many seasons as a professional. The only other backs in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards or more in their first five seasons are Earl Campbell and Eddie George.
60 – consecutive games in which Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne has caught three or more passes. That’s the longest such streak in NFL history, two longer than the previous best set by Cris Carter with Minnesota from Dec. 1993 through October 1997. By comparison, the longest such streak by a Titans receiver this season is six games — Jared Cook (Sept. 9-Oct. 11), Nate Washington (Sept. 23-Oct 28) and Kendall Wright (Sept. 23-Oct. 28). No one among the Titans has had three receptions or more in the last two games.
216 – rushing yards by Luck, which is the most among AFC quarterbacks. Of his 44 attempts, 21 (47.7 percent) have produced first downs. Locker is third in the AFC with 162 rushing yards on 21 carries of which seven (33.3 percent) have been for first downs.