Colts rushing attack too much for Tennessee Titans on TNF

After jumping out to an early lead, the Tennessee Titans were unable to finish off the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football sinking Tennessee to 4-6 on the year.

Coming into the short week, Indianapolis held a two game lead over Tennessee for first place in the AFC South.  With the Texans dropping to 2-7, the battle for the division title has fallen between Tennessee and Indianapolis.  With the loss to the Colts, the Titans have dwindled to 0-3 against AFC South opponents.

Out of the gate, Chris Johnson looked like he was headed for the record books recording 70 yards on 8 carries with two touchdowns in the first quarter.  Johnson carried the ball 17 times on the day but his rushing total only climbed to 86 yards.

Contrary to the usual style of play of Tennessee, the Titans defense allowed 30 points Thursday, tying their season high.  Defensive holes and special teams mistakes earned Tennessee their second straight loss at home.

With Jake Locker out for the year, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been asked to step up to lead a young Titans team.  Despite shaky play this season, Fitzpatrick arguably played his best game thus far in 2013.  Completing nearly 80% of his passes, Fitzpatrick threw for 222 yards and a touchdown.

The Tennessee receiving core consisted of the usual suspects, tight end Delanie Walker and wide-outs Nate Washington and Kendall Wright.  Catching his fifth touchdown of the year, Delanie Walker has asserted himself as a starting tight end after spending his career behind All Pro, Vernon Davis.  Walker’s fifth touchdown reception is a career high to go along with his 91 yards and 10 receptions.  Wright and Washington added 80 and 53 yards but were unable to reach the end zone.

Brown has played lights out this season. Look for him to start moving forward. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Leading 17-6 at the half and in spite of the Titans efficient offensive performance, the Tennessee defense and special teams could not keep the Colts from moving the ball.

Clinging on to a 17-13 lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter, second year return man Devon Wylie fumbled a kick return leading to an Andrew Luck rushing touchdown giving the Colts their first lead of the game.

Luck’s rushing touchdown was the second of three rushing scores given up by Tennessee on the day.  The other two touchdowns were scored by veteran third down back, Donald Brown, who rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries.  Complementing Brown’s surprise performance, newly acquired running back Trent Richardson added 22 yards on eight carries.

In addition to the rushing touchdown, Luck threw for 232 yards, 107 of which were recorded by Luck’s former Stanford teammate, Coby Fleener.

Trailing 23-20 with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter, linebacker Akeem Ayers pummeled Luck on a rushing play leading to a 15 yard penalty allowing the Colts to take a 10 point lead.

With no timeouts remaining, this was the nail in the coffin.

Though the Tennessee Titans always play the Indianapolis Colts tough, the young Titans could not hold off the division leaders on prime time.  After a matchup with the Oakland Raiders next week, the Titans travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Because of the losses by the Chargers and Jets, the 4-6 Titans are still in the hunt for the sixth and final Wild Card spot.  With six games remaining, three of which against divisional opponents, the Tennessee Titans should not be counted out as legitimate playoff contenders.