Vince Young played OK. Chris Johnson played OK. The defense played OK. The special teams effort was OK.
But OK was not good enough against Peyton Manning and the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.
On a day in which the Titans were “helped” by the Raiders defeating the Steelers and the Dolphins beating the Patriots, the Titans could not maintain its winning streak or its hopes of sneaking into the playoffs as a wild-card team.
Indianapolis’ defense deserves most of the credit for the Colts’ victory. They contained Johnson and turned the Titans into a passing team. Indy’s blitzes were timely and effective. They only sacked Young once but they did not allow Johnson to break a long touchdown run.
Young’s stats (27 of 43 for 241 yards and two touchdown passes) do not reflect his erratic play. He mishandled a couple of snaps and threw an interception on a play that looked as if he was forcing the action with the Titans down 14-3 in the second quarter. Again, credit the Colts’ speedy defenders for not allowing Young to engineer another miracle comeback.
Tennessee’s defense played well, especially in the second half, but they could not keep Joseph Addai from reaching the end zone twice. They also could not sack Manning.
Today was a day of endings for the Tennessee Titans:
- The Titans’ winning streak (five)
- The Titans’ playoff hopes
- Chris Johnson’s MVP bid
- Vince Young’s consecutive game winning streak (ends at nine)
If you’re a Titans fan, you can’t be too disappointed with today’s loss. Indianapolis has the best quarterback in the NFL (Tom Brady has taken a step back, so Manning has no peer) and the Colts players have proven their toughness, savvy and resiliency all season long.
Now we can start asking “what if”:
- What if Tennessee had won two or three of its first six games?
- What if Jeff Fisher had assessed Young’s solid preseason performance and named him the starting quarterback for game one?
- What if Mark Jones (or Alvin Pearman) and Rod Hood were on the opening day roster?
Now that the playoff chase is over, the Titans can play for respectability. Next opponent? The St. Louis Rams, one of the NFL’s worst teams.