NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The exhale heard inside the depths of Nissan Stadium Sunday afternoon came from the Indianapolis Colts' locker room.
Perilously close to falling to 0-3 with 12:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Colts had allowed 27 points to squander a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Back they came to endure with a 35-33 win over the Tennessee Titans.
But this AFC South victory was as much survival as conquest.
"Every comeback, whatever, is different," said quarterback Andrew Luck, who shook off two third-quarter interceptions to throw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. "We've lost and won different, but because this was the next game, or the last game now, it's the biggest game you have. It's cliche, but it's true.
"I think, again, because it's a division game, and like I said, because I think we were 0-2 and just weren't playing very well, we needed this. We needed this, and at times we didn't play well during the game. At times, I didn't play well, but what a bunch of fortitude and grit by those guys in the locker room."
Luck is known for keeping an even keel amid an intense enviroment. But the three-time Pro Bowl passer conceded the ebbs and flows of this struggle had him worn out at the end.
"It's an emotional game," he said. "Every game is, some more than others. This one certainly was, and you try not to ride the emotional roller coaster, in a sense, but I think after a game like this, you feel spent, and you should. If you're not giving it your all, then I think you're wrong."
Problem is, Luck again tried to do too much at times. While accepting his fate and taking three sacks, he also forced a couple of throws he wished he had back. Two interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter resulted in 10 Titans points.
On the first throw, he underestimated the coverage of Titans corneback Perrish Cox and threw a sideline pass intended for T.Y. Hilton that didn't arrive quickly enough. Cox jumped the pass and returned the interception 27 yards to the Titans' 3. The Titans cashed in with a touchdown pass on the next play.
In the next series, Luck threw another pass toward Hilton that linebacker Zach Brown intercepted and returned 45 yards to the Colts' 13. Somehow, the Colts' defense made a stand and forced a field goal.
"Bad decision on the scramble one, throwing it up there, just throw it away," he said of the latter interception. "We just need another down, play third down.
"Then it was a good jump by Perrish Cox on the one on the left side there on T.Y. He got a good jump on it, but (I) left it inside a little too much."
Luck rebounded to finish 18-of-30 passing for 260 yards with fourth-quarter touchdown passes to wide receivers Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief in a span of 56 seconds. Dorsett, a rookie first-round choice, caught a 35-yard pass for his first NFL score. Moncrief outjumped a defender to come down with 11-yard score, marking the third consecutive game the second-year pro has scored a touchdown.
"He's a gritty guy," head coach Chuck Pagano said of Luck, "and he's able to move past the bad plays, put them behind him and put something together like he put together today."
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