The Tennessee Titans hosted the Indianapolis Colts on October 28, 2012. The Titans lost 19-13 in overtime. For four quarters, the Titans never trailed. They overcame some questionable officiating. However, that questionable officiating got the best of them late in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Here were a few observations from that contest.
Chris Johnson: Still Running Well
Chris Johnson had 21 carries for 99 yards. Johnson also had two catches for 18 yards. During the fourth quarter, Johnson dropped a poorly-thrown screen pass. Had this been completed, Johnson had three blockers ahead of him and room to run.
Defense: Better, But Far From Good
The Titans allowed 19 points, 13 of which came in regulation. They came into this game allowing 34 points per game. They allowed more than 29 points in six of their first seven games.
The defense played better. They still didn't play well. The defense allowed 457 total yards to an offense with a rookie quarterback and a suspect ground game. Andrew Luck had 297 passing yards. The Colts had 171 rushing yards. The Colts converted 50-percent of their third-down attempts. They also converted their only fourth-down attempt.
This was the definition of a "Bend but don't break" defense. Is that good? It's not good enough. The pass rush was much better than in previous weeks. However, the defensive backs and linebackers play too far off the receivers. It's far too easy to complete underneath passes.
Here's my question: why does Jerry Gray allow Ryan Mouton to cover the other team's No. 1 receiver? The Titans have two solid cornerbacks with Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner. However, when teams use their No. 1 receiver in the slot, Mouton covers him. In Week 3, the Detroit Lions exploited this with Calvin Johnson. Reggie Wayne had some big catches when Mouton covered him.
Regardless of whether this defense plays man-to-man defense or zone defense, Verner or McCourty must play man-to-man on the other team's No. 1 receiver. Mouton is not covering elite receivers.
Officiating: Colts' 12th Man Vs. Titans' 12th Man
The worst call came in the fourth quarter. With a few seconds remaining, the Titans recovered a fumble that was deep in Colts territory. Unfortunately, the officials had already ruled that the runner's forward progress had stopped. The Colts retained possession. Had the Titans kept possession, Rob Bironas had a chip shot field-goal attempt. The win was almost a certainty.
Another controversial call came in overtime. On the Colts' first offensive play, Akeem Ayers was charged with illegal use of hands. This was shortly after the botched ruling on the fumble. That seemed to deflate any energy that the defense had. The Colts ran down their throats en route to the game-winning touchdown.
The Titans allow their opponents to stay in games. This is why they can't always rely on that. They could have put this game out of reach before the fourth quarter started. Instead, they put it in the hands of the officials. The referee made critical errors in the last two minutes of regulation and overtime. Of course, the "Bend but don't break" defense finally broke.
The Titans had a lot of opportunities to win that game. They didn't capitalize. It came back to haunt them. Although the offense moved the football, they didn't finish enough drives. 13 points against the Colts' defense is unacceptable. During the fourth quarter, Matt Hasselbeck had a wide open Jared Cook sprinting to the end zone. Hasselbeck overthrew him. That would've been the game.
It's a tough loss. The Titans have two games before their bye week in Week 11. The Titans host the Chicago Bears in Week 9. The Titans have a road game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 10.
With a 3-5 record, the Titans have no room for error. They must win both of these games.
Run Offense: B
Pass Offense: B
Run Defense: D
Pass Defense: C
Special Teams: B+
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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