Colts-Titans review: Quite a comeback

On the verge of falling to 0-3, Colts play their best at the end.

Here’s what stood out from a second look at the Indianapolis Colts’ 35-33 victory Sunday over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.:

* Outside linebacker Erik Walden misses a sack on the Titans’ initial third-down play, but Colts get lucky on a pass drop.

* Colts’ first offensive play and Hugh Thornton, getting his first start of the season at right guard, pulls and gives running back Frank Gore room to gain 6 yards. They pull guys right again and Gore picks up the first down. But then Jurrell Casey throws Thornton aside and drops Gore for a 1-yard loss.

* As expected, Titans blitz on the Colts’ initial third-down situation. They send three extra guys. Rookie running back Tyler Varga helps outside with the block on a blitzing defensive back, which is a mistake because left tackle Anthony Castonzo doesn’t need the help and it gives Titans defensive lineman Karl Klug a free run inside at quarterback Andrew Luck. Announcer says it's Josh Robinson on the blown blitz pick-up, but it was Varga. Luck at least saves some yards by throwing the ball into the ground.

* When Colts get ball back, Thornton gets called for holding. Yeah, he grabs Brian Orakpo, and didn’t need to because the Titans defender was already committing inside. No need to grab him from behind.

* Surprisingly, Titans send only one extra defender on third-and-20 pass play, which gives Luck time to float a throw that wide receiver T.Y. Hilton makes a great break on to grab for a 48-yard gain to the Titans’ 1. Defender is beyond Hilton, who is looking back and in perfect position to make the catch. Gore scores two plays later for the Colts’ first touchdown in the first half this season.

* Justin Hunter beats Vontae Davis for a 29-yard reception.

* Rookie nose tackle David Parry makes a solid stop on a first-down rush for no gain.

* Colts safety Mike Adams blitzes on third down and has a chance to sack Marcus Mariota yet misses, but the visitors still get the desired result as the underneath throw is short of the sticks. Titans forced to punt again.

* Gore can’t get the first down on third-and-2 rush as Klug beats Castonzo to slow the back and linebacker Zach Brown is unblocked and able to finish the play after a 1-yard gain.

* Outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome gets caught on the end around as he commits inside too quickly and takes himself out of the play with wide receiver Kendall Wright running 13 yards for a first down. That’s not setting the edge.

* Colts cornerback Josh Thomas, signed just five days earlier, drills tight end Delanie Walker to cause a deflection that safety Dwight Lowery catches for an interception and returns 69 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0. Thomas surprises the Titans by leaving his man as the pass arrives to hit Walker. Lowery shows some decent speed and makes Mariota miss on the return.

* Adams loses his balance and can’t regain his footing to prevent Dexter McCluster from gaining 35 yards on a pass play. McCluster and Adams bumped into each other, but it looked like Adams was losing his footing and causes the contact.

* Titans have to settle for a field goal (barely as it bounces through off the left upright) after Thomas breaks up the third-down pass. Colts are certainly getting their money’s worth from the newcomer Thomas, who is playing for his fifth team in as many years.

* Third down and Titans fake the blitz, but Orakpo beats Castonzo with an outside speed rush to sack Luck.

* Nobody covers Titans tight end Anthony Fasano on third down as he releases into an open field and turns a short pass into a 26-yard gain. That’s exactly the kind of call the Colts need to utilize more, when the tight end stays home to max protect, but if uncovered, can release up the field.

* Parry gets his first NFL sack. He looks like he’s squeezed inside, but squirts through and makes a diving tackle on Mariota.

* Colts can’t get to Mariota on third-and-13 play and the passer throws a strike to Walker for 19 yards. Colts blitz linebacker Sio Moore, but he disappears inside.

* Wright slants inside to catch the quick pass and score on a 7-yard play. That coverage didn’t make sense. Closest guy to Wright is Walden, a linebacker, who isn’t in position to make the stop. Davis doesn’t follow the receiver inside, switching to the slot receiver who runs outside. The Titans evidently expected the Colts to be playing a soft zone, which was obviously way too soft.

* Wonder if Adam Vinatieri could have made a 61-yard field goal just before the end of the half. Thornton false starts, though. Scraps that.

* Third down and Titans blitz again, get to Luck, who fumbles and fortunately falls on it. Klug gets past Castonzo to get the sack. Can’t remember the last time Castonzo gave up two sacks in a game.

* First-and-20 after a penalty, but nobody is in position to make a stop as Bishop Sankey takes a screen pass 20 yards for a first down.

* Wright burns Colts again on a quick pass as Adams can’t stay with him on 18-yard gain. Titans getting yards in chunks. Sankey runs for 11. Wright open again for 24-yard pass. Titans go ahead as running back Antonio Andrews scores outside on an 8-yard run. Walden unable to secure the edge as he’s out of position and reaches in vain. Colts defense looks worn out from being on the field for two-thirds of the game.

* Luck just makes a bad throw on his first interception. Cornerback Perrish Cox is sitting on that out route and jumps in front of Hilton.

* Titans rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham sure looks like he gets away with a push off on Davis on a 3-yard TD catch. Davis begs the ref for a flag that doesn’t come.

* Colts offense continues to sputter. Thornton with another holding call. Titans don’t make same mistake twice and blitz on third-and-20 play this time, forcing Luck to throw short to tight end Coby Fleener. Visitors have to punt again.

* Punter Pat McAfee with a tremendous heads-up play to run 18 yards for a first down. Titans didn’t have anybody out there.

* Wide receiver Andre Johnson contributes a 37-yard catch, but Thornton gets another holding call. He just grabs his guy and throws him down. That’s too obvious. And it wipes out Johnson’s only big play of the game, and what would have been his largest gain for his new team.

* Luck makes another mistake, throwing off his back foot and Brown intercepts. Three Titans are around Hilton, so he’s not open. That’s one to be thrown away. Luck acknowledges this a day later.

* At the time, it didn’t seem like an important stop, but the Colts force the Titans to settle for a field goal after the home team has first-and-goal at the Colts’ 1. How many times does that happen? Walden gets a stop for a loss and then Kendall Langford and Jerrell Freeman team up to stuff the third-down rush. Titans lead 27-14.

* Titans blitz on third down again, Colts anticipate it with a quick screen, but the pass gets knocked down. Colts go three-and-out.

* Colts give up another big play as tight end Craig Stevens is wide open for a 27-yard reception. Adams and Walden are looking at each other like they don’t know how he got so open.

* Just when the Titans are in position to really put this one away, the Colts get two huge plays as D'Qwell Jackson smacks McCluster for a 4-yard loss and Freeman sacks Mariota on third down for an 8-yard loss.

* The Titans down the punt at the 2. Fleener gets a holding call, but the Colts start clicking as Luck throws a quick slant to rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett for a first down. A series of positive plays includes a Hilton 21-yard reception and two passes to Fleener. Facing third-and-20 after Luck takes a sack (Casey gets past Joe Reitz), the Titans only blitz one and the quarterback makes them pay with a 35-yard TD pass to Dorsett. The rookie speeds past the defender and has a good two yards of separation.

* Mariota makes a mistake as he tries to throw deep but Lowery is in perfect position to intercept and returns it 26 yards to the Titans’ 11.

* On the next play, Luck throws it up nice and high, where wide receiver Donte Moncrief goes and gets it for a touchdown. Third straight game Moncrief has a score. Just like that, Colts lead 28-27.

* After the Titans go three-and-out, the Colts drive again. Luck finds tight end Jack Doyle, who makes a nice cut after the catch to turn a short pass into a 19-yard gain. Gore rips off his best run yet with a 25-yard gain. Three plays later, Gore speeds outside and into the end zone for a 6-yard TD. And the guy with the kick-out block is Thornton. Colts, 35-27.

* Outside linebacker Robert Mathis sacks Mariota on first down, but the Titans mount a drive as Mariota converts a third-and-10 with a pass to Walker. Walden gets a roughing-the-passer penalty after a Wright 20-yard reception. That’s Walden’s second such personal foul of the season.

* Another Walker catch moves the chains to the Colts’ 21. Then Green-Beckham takes a pass 19 yards to the Colts’ 2. The Titans score two plays later on a 1-yard rush.

* The Titans must go for two to tie. A Jalil Brown pass-interference penalty on the initial two-point conversion attempt moves the ball to the 1. The Titans try to pound it in with fullback Jalston Fowler, but there’s no room on the left side, he tries to run wide to the right and the swarming Colts drop him for a loss as Adams makes an all-important tackle.

* The onside kick bounces out of bounds. Game over. Exhale.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

Colts Blitz Top Stories