Beyond that, absent some first half miscues, the Colts dominated the game due in large part to another impressive defensive performance that kept the Titans out of the end zone and limited star running back Chris Johnson to 34 yards on nine carries.
Who Looked Good On Offense?
Peyton Manning had another impressive game, connecting with six different receivers for 309 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception (109.2 rating). Most impressive is that Manning completed 82 percent of his passes against a Titans secondary intent on limiting the Colts passing game, and in the face of a pass rush which regularly generated pressure on him.
Collie's breakout performance helped take away the Titans' momentum
AP Photo/Wade Payne
His quick release and play calling changes in the first quarter began to neutralize the Tennessee front four, wear them out, and keep them from forcing negative plays. Through five games, Manning has been putting on a passing clinic and has the most yards to start a season in his career (1,645).
Manning's biggest target against the Titans was rookie wide receiver Austin Collie, who had a breakout performance. Collie caught eight passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, including a momentum-changing 39-yard grab to end the first half, giving Indianapolis 21-9 lead.
He topped off his night with an entertaining cameo in the post-game interview, with Manning seemingly irritated a bit that the youngster would come out and make himself look silly after an otherwise outstanding performance.
Joseph Addai also figured heavily into the Colts game plan, catching all 10 passes that came his way for 53 yards, adding another 27 yards on the ground. With his performance receiving tosses from Manning, he continues to make himself one of the top pass-catching running backs in the league.
Tony Ugoh and Mike Pollak both struggled against the aggressive pass rushing attack the Titans displayed early in the game. Ugoh allowed Kyle Vanden Bosch to hurry Manning twice and get a hand on his arm on one pass, leading to a Keith Bulluck interception.
Compared to Charlie Johnson's performance in the first four games, Ugoh seemed very weak in pass protection with a game-redeeming run block on Addai's rushing touchdown as a lone bright spot.
Pollak struggled against Tennessee defensive tackles Javon Haye and Tony Brown, who were regularly able to collapse the pocket on the right side of the Colts offensive line in the first half. He continues to rotate with Kyle DeVan. Pollak was also flagged for holding and an illegal block in the back.
Who Looked Good On Defense?
Antoine Bethea deserves the defensive game ball. He made eight tackles, including seven solos, and forced a fumble early in the game to set up the Colts' first score. Statistics aside, Bethea was all over the field making plays against the run and pass, hit ball carriers with authority, and is having one of the best seasons of his career to this point.
Lacey's coverage skills have been impressive through the first five games of the season
AP Photo/John Russell
Clint Session was also very active as a two-way defender. He tallied nine tackles, with eight solos, and defended a pass (which he nearly intercepted). Of the linebackers, he is most responsible for helping the Colts hold the Titans to under 100 yards rushing, and limiting the league-leading rusher entering the game to only 34 yards.
Undrafted free agent rookie Jacob Lacey continues to develop and has been looking like a very strong defensive back for the Colts, with a bright future. Lacey finished third on the team with seven tackles, six solos, and an outstanding three passes defensed. He was single-handily responsible for keeping Collins and company out of the end-zone in the first half when he broke up a pass to Kenny Britt.
No matter where Collins threw on the field, if he threw to Lacey's man, the ball was either deflected or the receiver went to the ground instantly without an opportunity to create yards after the catch.
Lacey did drop a sure interception late in the game, something he should work on if he wants to continue his push for more time on the field.
Fellow rookie Jerraud Powers also put up a solid performance with six tackles, including four solos, and a pass defensed. Most impressive about Powers' play was how actively and aggressively he pursued the run. On more than one occasion he crashed to the line of scrimmage to make a short stop, helping the Colts corral Chris Johnson.
It is difficult to pin-point a defensive albatross in such a strong game. While he did redeem himself by making a back-breaking interception (and two solid special teams tackles), wrestling the ball away from Titans receiver Nate Washington on the Titans opening drive in the second half, Tim Jennings also made some mistakes that cost the team.
Late in the first quarter, after the defense forced a three and out, Jennings ran into returner T.J. Rushing as he tried to field the ball. This led to a fumble, which was recovered by Tennessee and led to a field goal (the Titans first points in the game). He also played loose coverage on Nate Washington late in the second quarter on third down and three, allowing Washington to run a clean post route for 23 yards.
Finally, Jennings was all alone when Collins chucked a lob ball to the deep right side of the field. He saw the ball coming and set up under it but misjudged the trajectory, allowing the ball to fly over his head instead of making a sure interception.
The problem with Jennings is consistency. There is no doubt he has the physical tools he needs to make big plays and he could be a solid corner if he would play as aggressively in coverage as he did on his interception but he simply does not do so as a rule and tends to disappear for stretches in the game.
If he can eliminate his mental mistakes, and play consistently and aggressively in coverage, he could stay on this team long-term. Otherwise, the little mistakes, the mental errors, and Downy soft cushions he provides will make him the Colts biggest weakness in the secondary and see him replaced by young developing players like Jacob Lacey and Jerraud Powers.
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