For a while it appeared the Colts would be the next team to fall for a trap game against a divisional opponent they should easily beat, but Andrew Luck once again lead Indianapolis back, winning 30-27 Thursday night in Nashville.
It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Colts. The team's defense allowed two rushing touchdowns from Chris Johnson in the first quarter while struggling on offense. Protection wasn't there for Luck, and he was routinely pressured, which killed the deep passing game. Trent Richardson wasn't able to run, receivers weren't getting open and even turning to trick plays was ineffective.
The night went from bad to worse as emotions overflowed. It looked like Indianapolis would be unable to get back on track after a series in which linebacker Erik Walden headbutted an offensive player and the team surrendered back-to-back penalties that gave up 27 yards. The Titans held a commanding lead 17-6 at halftime, and it looked impossible for the Colts to overcome their emotions, let alone the deficit.
There's a lesson in all this, though. Never count out Andrew Luck. His statistics might not always be eye-popping, but there are few quarterbacks in the league more capable of putting a team on his shoulders when everything else is failing. The Colts didn't just need their quarterback to lead the team back, they needed a steadying force. The second-year Luck was able to offer precisely that.
A grinding drive resulted in Donald Brown's rushing touchdown and suddenly the team showed signs of life. The Titans fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the ball was back in Luck's hands. It wasn't a matter of being given and inch an taking a mile, rather the Colts quarterback asserted his will and improvised his way to the team's third touchdown of the night on a play fake that left the Titans defense confused before he easily ran it in for the lead.
Indianapolis held on and was able to leave with another victory that could have easily gone the other way. The win almost certainly seals an AFC South championship for the Colts, now leading by three games with six to play. The Titans will need look to reload in 2014 and decide if they can move forward with Jake Locker at quarterback.
Fantasy studs and duds:
Chris Johnson did everything he could, totaling 86 yards and two touchdowns.
Donald Brown was the big surprise on Thursday, as he finished with 79 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Coby Fleener has one of his best games as the Colts tight end had a big day in PPR leagues with eight receptions for 107 yards.
Did they cover?
11/24: Indianapolis Colts vs. Arizona Cardinals