Luck rallies Colts to 1st win of season 35-33 over Titans
TERESA M. WALKER
Sep. 28, 2015
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts believe they've pulled off the kind of win that can cure what ailed them during an ugly 0-2 start this season.
Now they just need to keep Andrew Luck healthy the rest of this season.
Luck shook off an ugly game where he completed only seven passes through three quarters by throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, rallying the Colts to a 35-33 victory Sunday over the Tennessee Titans for their first win.
Luck was 11 of 13 for 144 yards in the final 12:20 in bringing the Colts back from a 27-14 deficit.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano called it a win for the ages and something they needed.
"He's a gritty guy, and he's able to move past the bad plays, put them behind him and put something together like he put together (Sunday)," Pagano said of his quarterback.
The Colts (1-2) avoided what would have been their first winless start since 2011 in the season they started 0-13 and got the right to draft Luck with the first pick overall in 2012. Luck improved to 7-0 against the Titans in his career.
The Titans (1-2) now head into their bye week having lost back-to-back games. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota can't remember the last time he endured such a skid, and linebacker Brian Orakpo said the young Titans need to learn how to finish.
"We are still the work in progress so to speak because we have so many young guys on this team trying to do the best they can," Orakpo said.
Here are some things to know about the Colts' rally against the Titans:
RENAME THE DIVISION: Officially, this is the AFC South. But the Colts have dominated this division since it was created in 2002, and now Luck is 17-2 against division foes. He's even better since his rookie season, and his latest win is his 14th straight inside the AFC South. That ties Peyton Manning for most consecutive wins since realignment.
SHUFFLED LINE: With Luck under such pressure through the first two games, Pagano switched up the offensive line yet again looking for better protection. Left guard Lance Louis was deactivated and right guard Todd Herremans benched. Jack Mewhort moved from right tackle to left guard, and Hugh Thornton started at right guard with Joe Reitz coming off the bench to start at right tackle.
Luck was sacked three times but got the space he needed to throw late. "We just felt like we needed a change and needed to get a spark," Pagano said.
LOWERY FOR MVP: Mariota had not been intercepted through two games, and Colts safety Dwight Lowery needed a bit of a lucky bounce to pick off the rookie Sunday. A pass went off Titans tight end Delanie Walker's hands right to Lowery, who then ran 69 yards for a TD. Lowery made it a double later, picking off Mariota in the fourth quarter, setting up Luck's second TD pass.
ANOTHER GAME, ANOTHER MARK: Mariota set the franchise's rookie record by throwing for 367 yards. He also threw two TDs, giving him eight for the season. Mariota tied Mark Rypien for the most TD passes by a player in his first three career games.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Not only did the Titans fail to score on the 2-point conversion from the Colts' 1, they also settled for a 21-yard field goal by Ryan Succop late in the third quarter after having first-and-goal after their second interception of Luck. "We say we have to be physical, then there are plays when you need to be physical and show that," Walker said. "We just didn't get it done ... in the situations where we need to be physical."
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