Ed Thompson's GameDay Blog

The Titans converted a 60-yard field goal to defeat the Colts by a count of 20-17. Ed Thompson published a blog as the game progressed. Start at the bottom and read your way up through the column to get his thoughts as he watched the game develop.

4th Quarter...

Marlin Jackson puts a good lick on the Titans fullback to save a touchdown and send him out of the game limping with a sore thigh. He had a full head of steam going when Jackson came flying in with a solid shoulder to the thigh.
Gary Brackett did a nice job sniffing out the fullback screen on a second and goal. But on the touchdown catch, the defensive call sure didn't put Jason David in position to stop the play. The Titans spotted the single safety cheating to the other side where they lined up two wideouts and took advantage of a poor alignment call. Perhaps the most disturbing part of it was the call was made after having the benefit of a timeout. Now it's up to Manning to get this team performing at a higher level. They need to open it up and attack, showing the Titans they aren't all they currently think they are.
Good start with a big pass to Fletcher, but then two running plays with a pass sandwiched in the middle against a fired up Titans defense sure wasn't the way to make a statement. Why not go for their jugular and shake their confidence? Manning's completion percentage is 75 percent. Why aren't the Colts riding that horse?
After a huge run, the Colts make a couple of nice stuffs. It's going to be interesting to see if the Colts defense was really out of whack on that third down or if their apparent confusion was a tactic to distract Young. If it was, it worked as he rushed his throw to an open Ben Hartsock forcing a pass and overthrew yet another receiver.
If the Colts don't go full throttle on this possession, I'm going to start thinking they aren't really interested in winning this game. They should be slapping this less-talented Titans team around.
There you go...big pass to Harrison. Time to stop dinking around, Indianapolis. Use your talent and put these guys on their heels.
Ben Utecht isn't going to be happy when he sees the film of his pass interference call. Vinatieri's field goal knots the game at 17 with just over 2 minutes.
Give some kudos to Kelvin Hayden for making what was undoubtedly the best open field tackle on Vince Young all day.
I can only guess that when the Colts called a timeout, they were worried that the Titans were going to try some sort of trick play when they pulled Rob Bironas and sent their punter out there, and didn't feel they had the personnel out there or the defensive call to defend against it. And it bit them badly as it gave Jeff Fisher time to regain his gambling attitude and send Bironas out there for the winning field goal. After the game, Bironas said he told Fisher he could make it after he got pulled. Bironas nailed it from 60-yars out. Vinatieri's 53-yard miss right before the half was costly, along with the Utecht penalty. But you know what? This one shouldn't have been close enough for either to matter.
It's going to be a long week for the Colts. There was a lot for them to be unhappy about in this one from penalties, to turnovers, to questionable playcalling on both sides of the ball that didn't help put them in position to win. They were way too conservative against a less talented team, and as a result allowed Tennessee to stay in this game after bolting out to a 14-0 lead. You know things are out of whack when Manning finishes with 75 percent of his passes being caught, 451 yards of total offense and the Colts score just 17 points. They need to regroup and come out with an attitude and game plan that allows them to dominate Jacksonville and get this team back on track next week.

3rd Quarter...

14-10 and the Colts have to kickoff. Nick Harper was fortunate not to get flagged after Bo Scaife's catch. He pushed him after he was out of bounds and Scaife had to leap over a cart on the sidelines due to the extra momentum.
Vince Young looks very relaxed, and he just tossed an ugly overthrow in the direction of in the direction of former Colts TE Ben Hartsock. But he makes up for it with his legs after juking Cato June and getting out where he could do some damage to put the ball inside the Colts 20. And then just as quickly he shows that rookie inexperience by tossing another lazy pass that is picked off in the end zone by Marlin Jackson. He's definitely at his best when running. While throwing, he looks like he's just throwing it out there in hopes of flaoting it to his receivers. You've got to think that Tony Dungy's going to have something to say about Jackson's celebration afterwards that cost the Colts 15 yards of turf in a tight ballgame.
Amazing catch by Harrison and nice job by Manning to get enough velocity on the ball despite being hit on a third-dwon early in the possession. I never get tired of seeing Pacman Jones hanging his head.
Reggie Wayne makes a nice hand-grab at a slightly high pass to move the chains again.
The Colts just ran a stretch play and Charlie Johnson had a tough battle to try to get Rhodes sprung. And while Rhodes lost a second or so, as he got out from behind Johnson, the rookie made a nice shove at his man as he tried to chase Rhodes, taking him to the ground so Rhodes could get a few yards.
Would have been nice to see Stokley hang on to that pass, but Hunter Smith and Kelvin Hayden team up to pin the Titans at about their own 5-yard line. That punt hit at the five and went straight up in the air. Great job by Smith.
As Travis Henry bolted wide on the first play, Nick Harper pursued him hard to force him to cut back inside. Jackson, who was trailing, ran just as hard rather than anticipating that Harper would cut Henry off. As a result, he overran him too, something you can't afford to do if you're the safety.
Young is wearing down the defense with his legs. And he's making it look easy. Ron Meeks better figure out what he's going to do to help his players maintain better containment on Young. He's not throwing all that well and has just a 60.0 QB rating in the game through the first three quarters. They've got to force him to throw in the last period.

2nd Quarter...

Pacman Jones took a nasty kick to the shin from teammate Keith Bulluck. His departure on a cart hurts both their special teams and their defense.
On the touchdown run by Dominic Rhodes (14-0 Colts), did you see the block by Ben Utecht and Charlie Johnson on the right side to lead the way for Rhodes? Nice work by those two.
What a lick by Rocky Boiman on the kickoff following the touchdown. Helmet right on the ball gave the Colts a chance to get it right back. Even though the Titans recovered, they have to be doubting themselves a bit right now down 14-0 and dodging a near-disaster.
Okay, huge run by Lendale White with a nice bit of improvisation, but did you see Dwight Freeney hoofing it right behind him? How many DEs have the speed to do that?
Nice work by Gilbert Gardner to bat down a pass and force a third down. But Young then uses his feet on third down for the second time to convert and move the chains. That's only going to make Young more likely to use his legs.
Pacman catches a screen and Dan Dierdorf blathers on about how he made Bob Sanders "whiff" on him. Dierdorf should know that in a situation like that, Sanders' first job is to keep the receiver from kicking the play outside. So Sanders, who didn't even leave his feet, let alone "whiff" on Jones, took care of his primary assignment, and in doing so, quite frankly, didn't have much of a chance to make the tackle.
Titans have to settle for a field goal and the Colts have close to two minutes to score. On the kickoff, they announced No. 31 as being responsible for an illegal block in the back, but it was charged to Kelvin Hayden.
Incredible catch by Reggie Wayne to keep the chains moving, but just as incredible job of concentration by Titans LB Keith Bulluck, making a great one-handed reel-in as he fell, stopping the ball from reaching Bryan Fletcher with about 30 seconds left.
Two consecutive nice catches by Tennessee's receivers help them move inside the Indy one. Nice hit by Jason David to drop Bennett just before he got across the goal line. I'm at a loss to understand how when Bennett's back is turned to the goal line, his lead knee doesn't cross nor his lead left hand, how the ball somehow crossed the plane of the goal line. Bad call by the officials. Would Tennessee have scored anyway? It's likely, but it would have been nice to make them actually earn it.
Big catch by Bryan Fletcher gives Adam Vinatieri a shot at a 53-yarder, but he misses right. 14-10 at the half in a game that really shouldn't be that close right now. The Colts are keeping the Titans in this one.Indy has 278 yards of offense compared to just 160 for the Titans, and the Colts have converted 71% of their third-downs in the first half. But two interceptions and five first-half penalties have really stifled the Colts from breaking this one open. Gilbert Gardner has had a very active first half with five tackles (3 solo) and a pass defensed. Manning's completing 72 percent of his passes and both backs are averaging over 4 yards per carry, so if they can just eliminate the mistakes, they should be able to pull away in the second half.

1st Quarter...

Gameday inactives are OT Ryan Diem, TE Dallas Clark, S Antoine Bethea, CB T.J. Rushing, LB Keith O'Neil, WR Aaron Moorehead, DT Dan Klecko and DE Ryan LaCasse.

Rookie OT Charlie Johnson is making his first NFL start and OT Daniel Federkeil, who was called up from the practice squad yesterday, is the first University of Calgary player to dress for a playoff game.

Safeties will be Bob Sanders and Marlin Jackson.
I'll have to eat some crow along with many others who weren't sure that the running back tandem concept was a great idea. Dominic Rhodes sure looks sharp on the first possession. If Tarik Glenn and Jake Scott don't set the team back ten yards to disrupt the drive, the Colts had some nice momentum going. The Titans clearly weren't expecting Rhodes to be a factor in this game.
On Tennessee's punt to Terrence Wilkins, did you see the great job Kelvin Hayden did against the Titans' right side gunner? Really nice work keeping him square in front of him and locked up.
Not a great start by Marvin Harrison. Since when did he start trying to catch passes against his chest? The result was a predictable bounce off the pads. For the second week in a row, Manning gets tagged with an INT due to an uncharacteristic error by Harrison.
The Titans are obviously willing to gamble a bit...and they lost. What a spectacular effort by Jason David to keep control of that tipped pass in the end zone. Icing on the cake was Jeff Fisher's challenge that cost him a timeout.
The television announcers were pretty critical of Marvin for dropping that pass after a jaw-rattling hit by the Titans, but I can't agree with that. Sure, you want to see him hold onto it, but give the Titans their due on that one. That was a heckuva hit.
Manning pump fakes the entire Titans secondary out of their socks. Touchdown Harrison on a nicely run route and precision pass. It's the 100th for the Manning-Harrison connection and with the catch Harrison moves into sixth place all-time in receiving yardage.
Pacman Jones in on offense? Nice diversion, but the Colts didn't bite. Then Tennessee tries to play sandlot football after Travis Henry is stuffed on the play. The Colts better be ready for anything today.
Oh man...I think Titans receiver Brandon Jones is going to have alligator arms the next time he has to run a deep middle route. Can you believe that hit that Bob Sanders put on him? Jones looked like a guy who was wondering if he gets paid enough to take that kind of punishment as he talked to a coach in a daze as he hit the sidelines.

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