In a game with a lot on the line, there were questions as to if the Tennessee Titans were up to the challenge.
Not that this team wasn’t talented enough to pull off a big road win against the Colts, but there were simply too many variables that were working against the Titans leading up to this game.
Tennessee was dealing with a slew of injuries on both sides of the ball, with Jayon Brown’s now confirmed extended absence being the one that shot the concern level for this defense through the roof. Even on the offensive side of the ball, Rodger Saffold and Ben Jones are still fighting through some nagging injuries, while the offense turned to its 3rd left tackle of the year due to — you guessed it — injuries.
To top it all off, the Titans have been historically bad at Lucas Oil Stadium, winning there only 3 times since the stadium opened in 2008.
But despite all that, Mike Vrabel’s team walked into Indy, and completely manhandled the Indianapolis Colts en route to a 45-26 win.
How it Happened
Derrick Henry was the star of the show, gaining 178 yards and scoring three times, with 140 of those yards and all three of his touchdowns coming in the first half alone.
But Henry wasn’t the only big star for the Titans today, in fact the other big time performance came from a whole unit instead of a another player on the roster.
This Titans defense played their best football since their week 9 win against Chicago, and they did it by possessing a physical, aggressive mindset from the first snap until the last.
The results weren’t pretty at first, by the way of two early Colts touchdowns. But as the game went along, this unit got more comfortable, and it showed in their play. Philip Rivers didn’t get a lot of easy throws from the 2nd quarter onward, and the Colts’ running game simply couldn’t get going against the Titans’ stout front 7.
All in all, it led to the Titans accumulating a number of stops, while handing the keys back to the offense so they could put up as many points as possible.
And that they did.
This most recent defensive performance is actually one you can build on moving forward. Unlike the impressive one against Chicago, this performance came against a Colts offense that was coming into their own over the last 3-4 weeks.
I’m still not ready to declare all the problems on this defense gone, no reasonable person should be preparing to do that.
But if this defense can hunker down in the run game, and begin to consistently clamp down the short passing game, you’ll begin to see a totally different unit compared to the earlier parts of this season.
What you saw today was a glimpse of the potential of this team, and why some people were so high on them coming into the year.
This offense is one of the best in football, with Derrick Henry and this play action passing game leading the charge. Combine that with a defense that’s able to get stops when necessary, and you’ll get a dangerous team to mess with as we approach December and January football.
But before we look that far ahead, you have to slow down and start with the few remaining opponents on this schedule.
Cleveland is a good football team, Green Bay is one of the best teams in the NFC, and divisional road games against Jacksonville and Houston have always been a doozy for Tennessee.
But with the way this football team played today, against one of the likely AFC playoff teams for that matter, I think it’s safe to say you can feel confident in this team whoever they play against.
Well, the only exception could be Kansas City.
But we’ll save that discussion for another day.