The 5-6 Tennessee Titans traveled to Indianapolis to take on the 7-4 Colts last Sunday in a must win game for playoff chances for the Titans. Looking to avoid a repeat sweep from last year by the Colts, how did the Titans fare? Let’s take a look shall we?

Anyone who listens to my podcasts or reads my articles knows how much I preach about the value of having consistently good quarterback play. The Titans got that from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick since he assumed the reins in Week 10. Going into the Sunday game at Indianapolis, Fitzpatrick had not thrown an interception though he had fumbled 4 times he only lost a fumble against Jacksonville in Week 10. Well, all that came crashing down in Week 13 against the Colts when Fitzpatrick threw 3 interceptions including a backbone breaking one on the Titans final drive while losing a fumble in an almost identical fashion to how he lost one against Jacksonville. Both resulted in defensive touchdowns and were the deciding factor in the game.

I may repeat myself too much on that score but the reality in this league is that you don’t win football games consistently turning the ball over multiple times. Looking across the league at teams like Kansas City, Philadelphia, and even the rise of the Arizona Cardinals and you see one consistent thing. Their quarterbacks have been protective of the football. The Arizona Cardinals weren’t a good football team when Carson Palmer wasn’t playing well. In the games where they went on a run, Palmer didn’t throw multiple interceptions. They lost Sunday in a game where he threw 2. This is not a coincidence.

In 2012 the Kansas City Chiefs went 2-14 without a good quarterback despite having pro bowl caliber players. This year Alex Smith has thrown only 6 interceptions and has not lost a fumble. The Philadelphia Eagles have turned to quarterback Nick Foles and have only lost 2 games since he started. How’s he doing in the turnover category? No big deal he has yet to throw an interception and has only lost 1 fumble.

Fitzpatrick isn’t on an island here with dumb mistakes. The Titans are the 12th most penalized team in the league and the 5th most in penalty yardage. There are only 4 Titans players I have identified to date who do not have a penalty this season and they are rookie center Brian Schwenke and defensive linemen Derrick Morgan, Kam Wimbley and Sammie Lee Hill. A whopping 83 Titans have been penalized this season. The Titans were penalized 6 times for 74 yards against the Colts.

Titans penalties

Good teams don’t do these things and until the Titans quit shooting themselves in the foot they simply cannot be considered a good football team. The missed tackles issue surfaced again as well as the Titans missed 6 tackles against the Colts. On the season, the Titans defense has missed 79 tackles. Still, despite how frustrating it is to see it happen, and statistically it does happen more often in games they lose, they are no where near the worst team in the league in that category.

missed tackles to date week 13

Want to know who the worst offenders are here? It’s not a coincidence its the linebackers which is a position group that has largely unperformed.

missed tackles

I like this group of linebackers but they are simply not playing up to par. The penalty Moise Fokou drew in the Colts game was completely unacceptable. It gave the Colts 3 points in a game where you cannot spot a team points. Really you can’t do it in any game but in a game that means so much that kind of dumb penalty is beyond unacceptable.

That being said, the defense played well enough to win this game. The pass defense was once again very good and has been the backbone of this team. The Titans for the most part also did a good job in the run game. The Titans limited the Colts to 104 net yards rushing and 160 net yards passing. The Titans had 347 net yards on offense to the Colts 264 net yards on offense. They held the ball 33:55 to the Colts 26:05.

In the end, it was the turnovers that mattered although the penalties and mistakes didn’t help one iota. The Titans lost another game they should have won as the Colts and Andrew Luck played poorly. Unfortunately, they played far worse and couldn’t take advantage. Disappointing to say the least.

I like this team and think from a composition standpoint it is one of the better teams the Titans have built. Darn it all but they are hard to watch however. Injuries certainly played a part in the Colts loss and factored into Fitzpatrick’s poor performance. The Titans offense isn’t the same without Delanie Walker. They also lost fullback Collin Mooney and tight end Craig Stevens Sunday. Second year tight end Taylor Thompson was brutal.

Let’s end on a good note and welcome Leon Washington to the team. The return game was pretty good Sunday and I might no longer hide my eyes when we take a punt or a kickoff. Special teams was relatively stable Sunday and let’s hope that trend continues.

The Titans have 4 games remaining and while a playoff run seems unlikely all eyes will be upon them to see how they respond to the pressure. Surely they know their poor performances this year has been laid in large part of the feet of their head coach and his coaching staff. Do they want to be known as the team that got Mike Munchak fired? If so they best understand that it puts their own job on the line as well since a new regime will want to bring in their own players. They are auditioning for jobs whether they like it or not.

It will be interesting to see if they rise to the challenge.

Final score:

Titans 14

Colts  22

Box score:

Tennessee Titans (5-7-0) Indianapolis Colts (8-4-0)
Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
R. Fitzpatrick 21/37 201 1 3
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
C. Johnson 18 69 0 9
R. Fitzpatrick 8 54 1 16
S. Greene 10 39 0 8
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
N. Washington 5 81 0 31
K. Wright 6 77 0 35
C. Johnson 6 32 1 11
J. Hunter 1 9 0 9
D. Walker 1 5 0 5
S. Greene 1 1 0 1
C. Mooney 1 -4 0 -4
Fumbles FUM LOST REC YDS
R. Fitzpatrick 1 1 0 0
K. Klug 0 0 0 0
D. Morgan 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
R. Bironas 0/0 0 2/2 2
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
B. Kern 6 32.2 4 50
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
L. Washington 3 26 0 32
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
L. Washington 2 21 0 33
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
Z. Brown 7-1 1.0 0 0
B. Pollard 5-0 0.0 1 0
J. Casey 4-1 1.0 0 0
M. Fokou 4-0 0.0 0 0
S. Hill 3-0 0.0 0 0
K. Klug 3-1 1.0 0 1
J. McCourty 3-0 0.0 0 0
G. Wilson 3-2 0.0 0 0
R. Pitoitua 2-0 0.0 0 0
A. Ayers 1-0 0.0 0 0
L. Edwards 1-0 0.0 0 0
D. Morgan 1-0 1.0 0 1
A. Verner 1-0 0.0 0 0
K. Wimbley 1-0 1.0 0 0
A. Johnson 0-1 0.0 0 0
Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
A. Luck 17/32 200 0 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
D. Brown 14 54 1 14
A. Luck 5 42 0 24
T. Richardson 5 19 0 11
D. Heyward-Bey 1 -11 0 -11
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
C. Fleener 3 50 0 21
T. Hilton 5 46 0 20
L. Brazill 3 42 0 17
S. Havili 3 29 0 19
D. Heyward-Bey 1 23 0 23
D. Brown 2 10 0 7
Fumbles FUM LOST REC YDS
A. Luck 2 0 1 0
C. Rainey 1 0 0 0
S. Brown 0 0 1 6
D. Brown 0 0 1 0
J. Freeman 0 0 1 24
R. Mathis 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
A. Vinatieri 5/5 49 1/1 16
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
P. McAfee 5 36.8 1 60
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
C. Rainey 2 22 0 25
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
C. Rainey 3 9 0 18
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
D. Butler 6-2 0.0 0 0
J. Freeman 5-4 0.0 1 0
P. Angerer 4-1 0.0 0 0
A. Bethea 4-2 0.0 0 0
L. Landry 4-0 0.0 0 0
V. Davis 3-1 0.0 0 0
C. Redding 3-2 0.0 0 0
K. Sheppard 3-2 0.0 0 0
B. Werner 3-0 0.0 0 0
R. Mathis 2-0 1.0 0 1
C. Vaughn 2-0 0.0 2 0
E. Walden 2-2 0.0 0 0
J. Chapman 1-0 0.0 0 0
A. Franklin 1-1 0.0 0 0
R. Jean Francois 1-1 0.0 0 0
R. Mathews 1-0 0.0 0 0
F. Moala 1-0 0.0 0 0
Total First Downs 24 Total First Downs 18
By Rushing 10 By Rushing 7
By Passing 11 By Passing 8
By Penalty By Penalty
Third Down Efficiency 6/15 – 40% Third Down Efficiency 3/14 – 21%
Fourth Down Efficiency 1/1 – 100% Fourth Down Efficiency 1/1 – 100%
Total Net Yards 347 Total Net Yards 264
Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 74 Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 62
Average Gain per Offensive Play 4.7 Average Gain per Offensive Play 4.3
Net Yards Rushing 162 Net Yards Rushing 104
Total Rushing Plays 36 Total Rushing Plays 25
Average Gain per Rushing Play 4.5 Average Gain per Rushing Play 4.2
Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 1–1 Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 3–20
Net Yards Passing 185 Net Yards Passing 160
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 1 – 16 Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 5 – 40
Gross Yards Passing 201 Gross Yards Passing 200
Pass Comp-Att-Int 21 – 37 – 3 Pass Comp-Att-Int 17 – 32 – 1
Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 4.9 Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 4.3
Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 3 – 3 – 1 Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 6 – 6 – 3
Punts (Number-Average) 6 – 37.0 Punts (Number-Average) 5 – 45.4
Blocked 0 Blocked 0
Net Punting Average 32.2 Net Punting Average 36.8
FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0 FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0
Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 43 Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 50
Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 43 Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 3 – 29
Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 3 – 78 Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 45
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 1 – 0 Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 3 – 21
Penalties (Number-Yards) 6 – 74 Penalties (Number-Yards) 7 – 50
Fumbles (Number-Lost) 1 – 1 Fumbles (Number-Lost) 3 – 0
Touchdowns 2 Touchdowns 1
Rushing 1 Rushing 1
Passing 1 Passing 0
Interceptions 0 Interceptions 0
Kickoff Returns 0 Kickoff Returns 0
Fumble Returns 0 Fumble Returns 0
Punt Returns 0 Punt Returns 0
Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 2 – 2 Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 1 – 1
Kicking (Made-Attempted) 2 – 2 Kicking (Made-Attempted) 1 – 1
Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0 Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0 Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 5 – 5
Red Zone Efficiency 2/2 – 100% Red Zone Efficiency 1/2 – 50%
Goal To Go Efficiency 2/2 – 100% Goal To Go Efficiency 1/1 – 100%
Safeties 0 Safeties 0
Final Score 14 Final Score 22
Time of Possession 33:55 Time of Possession 26:05