Colts Tennessee Game
December 19, 2011 by staff
Colts Tennessee Game, As the final seconds melted away, several Titans watched the clock almost in disbelief. They had allowed the Colts to crack the goose egg that had been in their win column through 13 games, and they believed there was no one to blame but themselves.
“I’m livid. I’m trying my best not to cuss right now,” wide receiver Nate Washington said after the Titans lost 27-13. “Our playoff run started today, and you saw what we did with it. It’s embarrassing.
“But this had nothing to do with the Indianapolis Colts. It’s about how we played. And we played like crap. Now our shot for the playoffs is probably gone.”
The Titans had so much to play for. A playoff spot was up for grabs, and they were facing a team that had been unable to get out of its own way, yet the Titans turned in a sloppy and uninspired performance.
Then there was the punch in the gut: Had the Titans (7-7) beaten the Colts, they would be leading the race for the final AFC wild-card slot with two games to go.
Now their playoff hopes are barely flickering. They trail the Bengals and Jets (both 8-6), and they need help.
“It’s our own fault,’’ Coach Mike Munchak said. “I never would’ve expected us to come out and look like they were the team that was going to the playoffs, and we were the team that was 0-13.”
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck played poorly, but he was only a part of the problem. Slowed during the week because of a calf injury, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and tossed another in the end zone to stop a potential rally.
But he had company on the Titans Island of Misfit Toys. Chris Johnson couldn’t run the ball effectively, in part because his linemen got pushed around. The defense couldn’t stop the run. Special teams continued to make mistakes.
Most troubling was the lack of intensity and killer instinct against a team that entered the game as a laughingstock.
“If we would have jumped on them early, maybe they get that ‘here we go again’ attitude,” safety Chris Hope said. “When the game started it was as quiet as a church in here. … But any time you play a team and you let them stick around — I don’t care if they’re 10-3, 5-5, undefeated or winless — you give them hope.
“We are playing just like our record shows, like an average football team. We had a chance to set ourselves above, but we don’t do it on a consistent basis. Good football teams don’t do the things we did today.”
There were bad signs for the Titans early in the game. The Colts jumped ahead 3-0 in the first quarter, their first lead in a game since Oct. 9 against the Chiefs. It was the longest such streak in the NFL since 1943.
Although the Titans managed to take the lead 6-3 at halftime, they squandered opportunities to score touchdowns, and the Colts continued to believe this could be their day.
In the third quarter, the Colts took the lead 10-6 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Dan Orlovsky to Reggie Wayne. Then Colts cornerback Jacob Lacey intercepted Hasselbeck and returned it 32 yards for a score.
The Colts were ahead 17-6, and the Titans, coming off an inspired performance against the Saints, were headed for an embarrassing defeat.
Hasselbeck blamed himself for a bad throw, and for not doing more to pump up his teammates. He admitted he was less than 100 percent because of the calf injury.
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