If you listened to local talk shows you would think the Colts were arriving in Tune Town on life support.
Their offensive line was decimated. It couldn’t block air.
Their defense was a shadow of those in their days of glory.
Evidently the Colts bristled when they heard of their demise.
It turned out the Colts were still the Colts and the Titans were sadly, still the Titans.
The Colts have had the Titans number over the years. They still have it after taking a 34-26 loss, the Titans 10th straight at the hands of the Colts.
They may have been short-handed on personnel Sunday at Nissan Stadium, but the Colts still had quarterback Andrew Luck. He burned the Titans defense for 353 yards and three touchdowns. He had no turnovers to go with a 123.1 rating.
The Colts still had wideout T.Y. Hilton, who caught seven passes for 133 yards. Luck went to tight end Jack Doyle 10 times and Doyle carried nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. They still had veteran running back Frank Gore, who gouged the Titans run defense for 61 of the Colts 81 yards on the ground.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was not at his best against the Colts. He lost one of his two fumbles and missed 15 of 37 passes to drag down the Titans offense. He was sacked three times worth 25 negative yards.
One day Mariota may prove to be as potent and polished a quarterback as Luck. He is not there yet and won’t be until he gets a few game-breaking weapons around him, especially one or two deep threat receivers.
“We managed to make enough plays at the end and we cut down on some mistakes offensively,’’ Luck said after the game. “I thought the coaches laid out an inventive, aggressive game plan for us to go do that.’’
The Titans game plan appeared to be a dink and dunk passing game.
Mariota’s longest completion was 26 yards, to tight end Delanie Walker. It was only one of his two completions out of 22 for more than 20 yards.
Luck on the other hand completed two passes over 30 yards, with receptions of 37 and 34 yards. He had three more completions for 20 or more yards.
There will no rest for the weary. They play Jacksonville here Thursday night. The Titans have no time to lick their wounds.
“Anytime you lose, it’s a missed opportunity,’’ said Titans Coach Mike Mularkey after seeing is team slide to 3-4, same record as the Colts.
“We knew what was at stake. I don’t know if a short week’s good at any time. It’s not good for planning. It’s not good for players. It’s not good, but we have to respond.’’
He saw what the Colts faced.
“They took a pretty devastating loss at Houston, came right back in here and played really good football. They didn’t let that affect them and I’m making sure that ain’t going to happen to us.’’
We shall see.
If this Titans team has mastered anything, it is being inconsistent. They are hard to figure game to game.
“I would agree with that,’’ Mariota said. “There are certain areas here and there that we can get better at. I thought we ran the ball well today, just unfortunately we just missed some things in the pass game that put us behind the chains and put us in some third-and-long situations and they were tough to get.’’
They can’t afford to lose Thursday night’s game. It would put them in a hole they don’t want to explore.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org