Good, bad & ugly: Colts 41, Titans 17
Sep. 29, 2014
Andrew Luck, Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hillton celebrate one of four TD passes. (Photo: Icon SMI)
Andrew Luck set records, Reggie Wayne surpassed milestones, Trent Richardson averaged 2.4 yards per carry, and another AFC South opponent was beaten down with scarcely a whimper. The Colts world is back on its axis.
This is supposed to be fall premiere week on network television but the Colts showed a rerun, following much the same script as last week in dismantling Tennessee 41-17 Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s going to be a stretch to find much in the way of bad and ugly, because there was so much good.
>> Whoever that was playing quarterback the first two games has been replaced by Andrew Luck, who racked up 393 yards and four touchdowns, following up last week’s 370 yards and four TDs. In the wins over the Jags and Titans, Luck was 60 of 80 (.750) for 763 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception, a ridiculous 132.4 passer rating. Luck became the first player in NFL history to post consecutive games with at least 370 passing yards, four or more touchdown passes, a completion percentage above 70 percent and one or no interceptions.
“He's in the zone right now,” said Chuck Pagano. “Any time you go out there and play fast and you’re not thinking, usually the result is the numbers, the yards and the touchdowns that he's producing right now. And he's got some great playmakers around him who are making great plays too."
>> Somebody asked Luck after the game if he knew how many TD passes he’d thrown already, and he said he had no idea. Possibly he’s lost count, since the answer is 13, and that’s a franchise record through four games. Remember Peyton Manning’s obscene NFL-record numbers last year (5,477 yards and 55 TDs)? Luck is on pace for 5,220 yards and 52 scores, so keep those calculators handy.
>> Also for the second week in a row, Luck completed passes to nine receivers. He also spread his TDs among four: Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and of course, recently rewired touchdown machine Ahmad Bradshaw, who already has four receiving scores, exceeding his previous career balance of three.
“We’re blessed with a bunch of great playmakers, guys that need the ball in their hands, and as a quarterback that’s what you want,” Luck said. “You want guys that go out there and make plays and then when you feel the defense focusing on one guy or two guys, we think our matchup can win every time wherever it is on the field.”
>> If you needed any more evidence in support of the thoroughness of Wayne’s comeback, consider his seven receptions for 119 yards against what was one of the league’s toughest pass defenses. The signature was his 28-yard touchdown reception, a balletic dance along the left sideline that made it 27-10.
Pagano: “Guy's 50 years old and still making plays like that.”
Luck: “I think he has mastered the craft of being a wide receiver.”
>> Pagano, who said last week we media types pay more attention to stats and milestones then the coaches and players, proceeded to read a list of Wayne’s accomplishments to the team after the game.
For the record: he played in his 200th game, behind only Manning and Johnny Unitas in Colts history; passed Isaac Bruce for seventh on the career receptions list (1,029, trailing No. 6 Terrell Owens by 49); passed Henry Ellard into 10th place in yardage (13,873, just 26 behind Cris Carter); tied Art Powell at No. 22 in receiving touchdowns (81); and extended his streak of consecutive games of at least three receptions to 75.
Pagano: “Obviously, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Reggie Wayne and all the milestones and records that he broke today. It took me about a week in there, that's why I'm late, to go over them all. He got a game ball by the way. Probably should give him two.”
>> T.Y. Hilton had 105 receiving yards, by the way, marking the first time since 2012 (Hilton and Donnie Avery) the Colts had two 100-plus receivers in the same game.
>> Pagano showed his gunslinger side by calling for an onside kick in the first quarter, after the Colts scored their first touchdown. The Griffer recovered and 11 plays later it was 14-0. “If we got the look we wanted,” Pagano said, “we were going to be aggressive and go after it.” Pat McAfee executed a perfect kick, just one of the many ways he continued to make a difference.
>> Typically, when a guy picks off two passes he’s going to be mentioned a lot sooner but Mike Adams had the misfortune of doing so when the offense was so prolific.
>> The Colts won their sixth straight over the Titans, who have never won at Lucas Oil Stadium, and extended their AFC South streak to nine.
>> The back-to-back games of at least 40 points are the first since 2004, and the combined 1,027 net offensive yards are the most in franchise history in consecutive games.
>> Slow starts are a thing of the past. The Colts led the Titans 20-10 at the half, bringing their total to 67-16 in the first halves of the last three games.
>> Yes, yes, the defense played, too. Particularly on third down, holding the Titans to 1-of-9 conversions. In his 100th career game, D’Qwell Jackson had 10 tackles and a sack.
>> The least-penalized team in the NFL last season, the Colts were flagged 11 times for 88 yards. Bjoern Werner’s only impact on the game was a personal foul for smacking Clipboard Jesus in the head while running by the Titans quarterback on a blitz.
“The one area we've got to go to work on is penalties,” Pagano said. “I think we had 11 penalties. We had four in the first half and then way too many in the second half, so we've got to get that cleaned up."
>> Luck’s only interception was a head-scratcher. Leading 20-3 in the final minute of the first half, he badly underthrew Bradshaw and was picked off underneath by linebacker Wesley Woodyard, setting up a Titans touchdown.
“It started off with a terrible throw, terrible decision by me especially in a two-minute, backed up with the lead like that,” Luck said. “I think those are fatal errors.”
Against actual good teams, possibly, but not so the Titans.
>> Can we finally dispense with the strength of schedule palaver? Entering the season, the Colts had the softest list of opponents in the league based on a combined winning percentage of .430 in 2013. If they played those teams in 2013, that would be a relevant stat. Here’s the reality of 2014: Their next six opponents have a combined record of 15-7.
>> Let us take a moment to reflect on just how important it is to have quality receivers, because the Titans don’t. First quarter, Kendall Wright stumbles and fumbles, setting up a Colts TD; second quarter, Justin Hunter lets one go through his hands, Adams intercepts, setting up a field goal; second quarter, Hunter drops one in the end zone, forcing Titans to settle for a field goal. Those three plays cost Tennessee 14 points and any chance of being competitive in the game. Charlie Whitehurst targeted the wide “receivers” 17 times, and they produced a total of seven receptions.