Bironas kicked a 60-yard field goal—the franchise’s longest ever—with 7 seconds left, and the Titans upset Indianapolis 20-17 Sunday for their first victory over the Colts since December 2002 and their second straight amazing comeback.
The team that tied for the NFL’s second-biggest comeback in the final 10 minutes last week against the New York Giants struck again Sunday against the Colts (10-2), who had lost only four of their previous 36 games.
With the wind at his back, Bironas needed every gust to lift the longest field goal in his short career over the crossbar for his second consecutive game-winning kick. He became the sixth kicker in NFL history to connect from 60 yards or better.
“I needed that wind behind me today,” Bironas said. “It was all at my back … I let the wind take it the rest of the way.”
Peyton Manning said the wind was a big factor for the Titans in the fourth quarter, and never bigger than on Bironas’ field goal.
“The guy made a heck of a kick,” Manning said.
The Titans (5-7) didn’t trail by 21 this time, but they were down 14-0 in the first half before starting this comeback with 10 points just before halftime. They intercepted Manning twice, and Vince Young threw for two touchdowns and used his legs to help keep the ball away from the two-time NFL MVP.
Indianapolis needed a victory to clinch the division for a club-record fourth straight year and its seventh playoff berth in eight years. Seemingly easy enough for a franchise that had won 12 straight divisional games coming into Sunday.
Instead, the Colts blew a 14-point lead for the first time coach Tony Dungy could remember and lost to the Titans for the first time in eight games.
“They make a 60-yard field goal, and you take your hat off to them. We put ourselves in that position where a field goal beats you, and it did,” Dungy said.
After Bironas’ kick—he made a 49-yarder with 6 seconds left to beat the Giants—Tennessee still had to kick the ball back to the Colts. Manning never got his hands on it again. Bryan Fletcher caught the kickoff, lateraled to Marvin Harrison, who tossed to Kelvin Hayden, who was tackled, running the last seconds off the clock.
The Titans then swarmed each other on the field, celebrating with the fans who didn’t want to leave.
“Last week was a big step for us,” Titans receiver Drew Bennett said. “We think we can do anything.”
Tennessee has improved on last year’s 4-12 record by winning five of its last seven and building lots of confidence.
“This team is crazy because we can come out and play the worst in the league, and we can come out and beat the best in the league,” said Titans punter Craig Hentrich, who held for the winning kick. “At this point, I don’t think there’s anything but good coming out of this team the rest of the year.”
Indianapolis outgained Tennessee 451-382, but the Colts only had the ball for a little more than 12 minutes in the second half, gaining only 47 yards in the third quarter.
The big stop came late in the fourth quarter.
The Titans, allowing the most yards in the NFL, forced Indianapolis to settle for a tying field goal after facing first-and-goal at the Tennessee 1 late in the fourth quarter. They stopped Joseph Addai for a 1-yard loss, then Manning tossed an apparent TD to Ben Utecht, only to see the tight end flagged for pass interference. That backed up the Colts to the 12, and Manning overthrew Reggie Wayne.
Asked about the penalty, Manning asked the reporter to tell him what happened.
“Can you get fined by the officials for saying something like that? … I didn’t see it. Obviously a shame was what that was. (We) still had a chance to score after that and didn’t do it,” Manning said.
Manning then scrambled for 5 yards and lateraled to Addai, who was stopped at the 2 on third-and-goal. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 20-yard field goal and tied the game at 17 with 2:38 to go.
Young, who drove the Titans 95 yards in 11 plays, put them ahead 17-14 with a 9-yard pass to Brandon Jones in the fourth quarter. He then set up Bironas for the longest field goal since Al Del Greco’s 56-yarder against San Francisco on Oct. 27, 1996, by moving 33 yards in nine plays.
The rookie quarterback finished 12-of-25 for 163 yards, and scrambled nine times for 78 yards, his biggest day rushing this year.
Manning finished 21-for-28 for 351 yards and a 68-yard touchdown pass to Harrison, who had seven receptions for 172 yards.
The Titans last beat Indy 27-17 on Dec. 8, 2002. … Young improved to 5-4 as a starter. He has scored at least one TD in each of his first nine starts. … Titans running back Travis Henry became the 100th player in NFL history with 5,000 yards rushing. He finished with 20 carries for 93 yards. … Manning and Harrison connected on a 68-yard TD pass that padded their NFL record to 100.