A new chapter in the Colts-Titans rivalry was waiting to be written. But the Tennessee Titans ran out of ink.
A final two-minute Titans drive veered off-kilter as a fourth-down play ended in a chaotic fumble that allowed the Indianapolis Colts to hold on for a 22-20 victory Sunday at LP Field.
The Titans, looking to defeat the Colts for a second straight time dating to last season, faced fourth-and-4 from the Indianapolis 47, needing approximately 12 yards to get to the of Rob Bironas’ range for a potential game-winning field goal attempt.
But instead of heroics, the Colts pressured quarterback Vince Young as the pocket collapsed, forcing the Titans quarterback to lateral desperately to guard Jacob Bell, whose own lateral was eventually recovered by Indy’s Darrell Reid, snuffing out Tennessee’s chance for a last-gasp victory, similar to the way Bironas had beaten the Colts with a 60-yard field goal late last year.
“At the end of the game, when the ball is in Vince Young’s hands, everybody feels like we’re going to win the game. We were just waiting for something magical to happen,” defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said.
On Sunday, the final bit of magic belonged to the Colts, who withstood the Titans’ best punches to come away with an AFC South victory to move to 2-0 on the young season, leaving Tennessee at 1-1.
The Titans faced an uphill climb for much of the game, beginning with a failed fourth-and-1 attempt at the Colts 44 that soon turned into an Indianapolis touchdown march and a 6-0 lead. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri had the first error of what would be an uncharacteristically troubling day for him, having the extra point blocked by Vanden Bosch.
The Colts continued to maintain the lead, adding a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Dallas Clark of 22 yards and a 22-yard Vinatieri field goal on the final play of the half to push the edge to 16-6.
For the Titans, their offense had seen a measure of success in the first half, but much like they did against Jacksonville in their season opener, Tennessee sputtered in the red zone and came away with just two Bironas field goals of 30 and 36 yards.
“It’s always discouraging when you get to the red zone and you only get three points,” running back LenDale White said. “When we get down there, we want to score seven. The more points you put up against this team, the better off you’ll be. When we get down there, we want to score seven.”