Dec 28, 2014 4:17 PM
Colts finish AFC South sweep, beat Titans 27-10
The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Andrew Luck topped one of Peyton Manning's franchise records and helped the Indianapolis Colts tune up their offense for the postseason in only 30 minutes.
That also was enough time to start the Titans prepping for the No. 2 pick overall in the NFL draft.
Luck threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns before sitting out the second half, and the Colts finished off the regular season by beating the Titans 27-10 on Sunday.
The Colts (11-5) bounced back from their worst performance this season by nearly matching what they did offensively in the loss at Dallas by halftime. They wound up outgaining the Titans 378-192 as the AFC South champs swept their division a second straight season for the first time in franchise history.
"I feel a heck of a lot better obviously today than we did a week ago this time," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Indianapolis will host Cincinnati, a 27-17 loser to Pittsburgh, on Sunday in a wild-card game.
Luck came in needing only 100 yards passing to top Manning's record of 4,700 yards passing in 2010 and passed Manning on an 80-yard catch-and-run by Reggie Wayne. Luck also became only the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 40 TDs and at least 4,000 yards in a season.
"Unbelievable," Pagano said. "I didn't realize that was the play that the record was broken. We gave Andrew a game ball and obviously credited him. Great milestone. Great record for Andrew, but very fitting that 87 was on the other end of that."
With their 10th straight loss and 14th in 15 games, the Titans (2-14) finished their worst season since 1994. Tampa Bay's loss kept Tennessee picking second overall in the draft for a franchise that hasn't had the No. 1 pick overall since trading for the right in 1978 to select Earl Campbell.
"Obviously, there's going to be change," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said after his first season. "This roster will have change. That's what happens when you have a record like this."
Adam Vinatieri missed out on becoming only the fifth kicker in NFL history not to miss a field goal in a season on his 42nd birthday. The Colts kicker came in hitting his first 28 field goals and connected from 23 on his first attempt. But Vinatieri was wide left on a 46-yarder in the third quarter, though he hit from 26 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Colts also came up with four sacks, and Vontae Davis simply took the ball away from Titans rookie running back Bishop Sankey in the fourth quarter.
The Titans started so poorly that the best early highlight came off Brett Kern's career-high 79-yard punt, helped when Josh Cribbs let the ball roll into the end zone.
The Colts were held to a season-worst 229 yards total offense last week in Dallas. They had to punt on their opening drive, then got going. Luck shook off a sack and a fumble recovered by right guard Hugh Thornton to throw a 7-yard TD pass to a wide-open Coby Fleener in the first quarter. Fleener also caught a TD pass from Matt Hasselbeck.
Wayne avoided a defender and hurt his groin as he ran up the right sideline on the 80-yarder. He stayed on the field for a couple minutes while fans chanted "Reggie, Reggie." Wayne never returned, and Luck capped the drive with a 1-yard TD toss to Jack Doyle on the next play.
"It was awesome," Luck said of the catch. "He contorted his body between two guys and to keep his feet inbounds and keep on running. He's remarkable. For him still to perform like that, he's special."
The Titans struggled even when they scored. With goal to go, the Titans twice had high snaps and followed the first with a delay of game penalty before Whitehurst found Kendall Wright for a 6-yard TD pass. On the second, Whitehurst could only cover up as he was sacked, and the Titans settled for a 31-yard field goal by Ryan Succop.
NOTES: Pagano joined 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh as the only coaches to win at least 11 games in each of his first three seasons. ... Indianapolis now has won seven straight and 12 of the last 13 in this series. ... Kern's 79-yard punt in the second quarter tied the franchise record set by Jim Norton in 1964.
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