Colts-Titans: Andrew Luck and Indianapolis overcome adversity yet again

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to tell what the Colts will look like from week to week, much less from one quarter to another within the same game. Inconsistency reared its head again against the Titans, but the Colts once again shook off adversity and delivered a win.

The Indianapolis Colts' win over the Tennessee Titans was really a microcosm of their season thus far. It should be no surprise that the team that upset the Denver Broncos in Week 7 and was blown out by the St. Louis Rams in Week 10 was able to come back from a 17-6 halftime deficit to win, 30-27. Andrew Luck looked alternately special and ordinary. Ditto the defense. The only consistent thread throughout the game was Trent Richardson's continued struggles.

The inconsistency infected every unit.

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On defense, the early story of the game was the Colts' inability to check Chris Johnson. The Titans running back had 70 yards rushing in the first quarter alone. Johnson helped Tennessee to an 14-0 lead with 30- and 7-yard touchdown runs. Then he managed just 16 yards over his final nine carries.

On offense, poor protection haunted Luck in the first half. Luck leaned on his checkdowns, and as a result the Colts scored just two field goals before intermission. The two scoring drives went 63 and 67 yards. The other two drives went for four and 15 yards. For the half, Luck was 12-for-21 passing for 108 yards, or 5.1 yards per attempt. Then the script flipped and the Colts began making big plays.

The second half opened with two touchdowns in a span of just 51 seconds. The Colts drove 74 yards for a touchdown, then they recovered a muffed kickoff to set up great field position. Luck then made one of his most impressive plays of the game, throwing a hard pump fake then taking off for an 11-yard touchdown run.


Luck went 11-for-15 passing for 124 yards in the second half, or 8.3 yards per attempt, well above his first half average. He completed eight consecutive pass attempts out of the locker room, displaying smart decision making. After Luck's touchdown run, the Colts and Titans traded field goals before the Colts scored another touchdown on a Donald Brown run to take what felt like a commanding 30-20 lead with three minutes to play.

Then the Colts' defense broke. After stifling the Titans in the second half, Ryan Fitzpatrick drove the Titans 80 yards in four plays to make the score 30-27 and put the Colts in danger of losing if they could recover the onside kick. The Colts managed, but the quick score served them another taste of their own mortality.

So the Colts are struggling to look like the same team from week to week, much less quarter to quarter. No doubt the Jekyll and Hyde act is getting to be grating for fans. The good news for them is the Colts are 7-3 and in commanding lead of the AFC South. More importantly, they proved that when they're on, the Colts can be really, really good.

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