INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts played one of their worst halves of the season Sunday, but as has become habit, they picked it up in the second half.
The Colts came back from a 13-point deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 27-23 on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis improved to 9-4 and improved its playoff hopes.
Adam Vinatieri's 53-yard field goal gave the Colts a 24-23 lead with 6:23 left before Colts cornerback Darius Butler helped set up another score with an interception of Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker on the next series. Vinatieri hit a 40-yarder to make it 27-23 with 3:48 left.
Indianapolis remains in the No. 5 spot in the AFC playoff picture heading into their final three games at Houston, at Kansas City and home against Houston. The Colts are 8-1 in games decided by one score this season.
"It'd be nice to not have one of these every once in a while," Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said. "But one thing it does, it gets us ready if we are lucky enough to get in the playoffs. It gets us battle-tested. We know if we do get down, we're capable of coming back."
The Titans (4-9) found out again about the Colts' comeback abilities.
Locker led the Titans to a 20-7 halftime lead, completing 15 of 20 first-half passes for 213 yards (including 127 yards to Kenny Britt) as the Colts' offense struggled. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, who passed Peyton Manning for the team record for most passing yardage in a season, threw two first-half interceptions.
The second half was a different story.
The Colts cut the deficit to 20-14 on their first drive of the third quarter, with Luck driving the team 80 yards in 14 plays. He completed two third-down passes to Wayne. Delone Carter scored on a 1-yard run.
A 52-yard punt by Pat McAfee pushed the Titans back to their 1-yard line. One play later, Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn jumped a route, picked off Locker's pass and put the Colts up 21-20 with a 3-yard return.
"Personally, I got tired of all the dinks and dunks over my head," Vaughn said. "I felt like that was a turning point in the game for us."
The Titans regained the lead 23-21 on a 16-play, 10-minute drive, capped by Rob Bironas' 25-yard field goal with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter. The Colts had penalties on two third-down plays that would have forced a punt.
"We had to settle for a field goal there, and that was a big disappointment," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "Getting a touchdown there could have made a big difference."
The Colts then put Vinatieri in position to win the game.
Luck finished 16 of 34 passing for 196 yards. Colts running back Vick Ballard had 19 carries for 94 yards.
Tennessee started strong, going up 7-0 on the game's first possession with a near-flawless nine-play, 80-yard drive. Locker was 6-for-6 passing for 53 yards, and he scrambled 32 yards for a first down. Locker hit tight end Jared Cook with an 18-yard strike for the touchdown.
The Colts tied it 7-7 after the Titans tried a 57-yard field goal, missed and gave Indianapolis great field position at its own 47. Luck engineered a score, hitting Wayne for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 1:01 left in the first quarter.
Locker's 47-yard strike to Kenny Britt set up a Bironas 40-yard field goal to put the Titans up 10-7 early in the second quarter.
The Titans boosted their lead to 17-7 with 4:40 left in the half when Luck, being sacked by Derrick Morgan, tried to throw a pass on his way down. Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon picked off the pass and returned 40 yards it for a touchdown. Officials reviewed the play to see if Luck's knee was down before the throw, but the call on the field stood.
"I probably deserved a pick-six for trying to throw a football in that position," Luck said.
Bironas boosted the Titans' lead to 20-7 with a 31-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the half.
Locker completed 22 of 35 passes for 262 yards and one score, but he threw two second-half interceptions.
"Any time you turn the ball over twice in a close game, it's going to cost you," Munchak said.
NOTES: Titans running back Chris Johnson reached 1,000 yards rushing for the fifth consecutive season, becoming the eighth player in NFL history to achieve the feat. The most recent was LaDainian Tomlinson. ... Wayne moved into the top 10 in NFL history in receptions, topping Andre Reed for 10th place. He finished the day six receptions for 64 yards, giving him a total of 956 catches. Reed had 951 catches, almost all with the Buffalo Bills.