Joe Rexrode and Jason Wolf recap the 36-22 Titans’ Monday Night Football win.
Autumn Allison/USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee
The best and worst from the Titans’ 36-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday at Nissan Stadium.
POCKET MARIOTA: Don’t get the wrong idea here – just because Marcus Mariota was essentially instructed not to run on his tender hamstring and responded with a 23-for-32, 306-yard game, that does not mean he should become a statuesque pocket passer. When he can run around freely again, he should. It makes this offense even tougher. But he was awfully impressive as a passer in pressure situations, after his pick-six, to turn around this game.
FIVE FOR FIVE: Titans fans may not have liked the fact that Ryan Succop tried five field goals. But he made all five and now holds the NFL record for most consecutive makes of less than 50 yards (51 straight and counting). You can’t do your job much better than that.
SECOND-HALF DEFENSE: The Titans got a forced fumble from Avery Williamson, a clinching fourth-down stop from Wesley Woodyard, three big third-down plays from Jayon Brown, good coverage and stout run defense. The Colts had one drive of longer than 20 yards after the break.
POWER PLAY: The Titans again stuck with the run game and got a payoff. Derrick Henry’s 72-yard touchdown run provided the final score and a 131-yard total for him and 168 for the Titans. But even before that, the Titans did enough on the ground – and in protection of Mariota – to win.
OUTSIDE HELP: The Titans will need rookie Corey Davis back. They can’t rely solely on Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker. That’s why Taywan Taylor’s winning 53-yard touchdown was big. Eric Decker’s seven catches for 88 yards might have been bigger. He was a force for the first time this season, and it was a timely emergence. Mariota changed a few plays to get Decker the ball, and the chemistry between those two that was apparent in preseason camp finally showed in a game.
FIRST-HALF DEFENSE: The numbers don’t show it because both teams had extended, run-heavy drives that chewed up clock in the first half, leaving both with just three possessions apiece until the Titans kneeled at the end. But the Colts did just about whatever they wanted against the Titans defense. It was a 52-yard drive for a field goal, a 73-yard drive for a touchdown and a 69-yard drive for a field goal. It was 67 rushing yards and 12-for-17 passing from Colts backup Jacoby Brissett. But two red-zone stops still count for something, and the Titans of course flipped the script after halftime.
THAT ONE SPECIAL TEAMS GAFFE: It was another mostly good night for the Titans’ kicking game. But the poor kick coverage after the Titans went up 22-19 in the fourth quarter is the kind of thing that can cost a team a game. Quan Bray eluded a pair of woeful tackle attempts and raced 60 yards before Brice McCain tackled him at the Titans’ 40-yard line. But the defense made sure the Colts would settle for a tying field goal, thanks to Woodyard’s blitz up the middle, forcing Brissett into an intentional grounding penalty.
Contact Joe Rexrode at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @joerexrode.