ReFo: Titans @ Colts, Week 14
In a game that saw both quarterbacks throw some of the worst interceptions you’ll see from a quarterback not named Sanchez this season, the Indianapolis Colts did what they have done for most of the year: find a way to win.
It wasn’t pretty at times, with some awful play along the offensive line, but the Colts are now firmly in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth due to this win and losses by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
For the Tennessee Titans it was a performance that promised much, but ultimately delivered little. They teased us with the potential of the Jake Locker to Kenny Britt combination but turnovers and costly penalties doomed them to their ninth loss of the season.
Tennessee – Three Performances of Note
Ugly Pick-Six Ruins Locker’s Day
There was plenty to like about Titans quarterback Jake Locker’s performance in the first half on Sunday, especially on the team’s touchdown drive to start the game. This was highlighted by his 32 yard run on 2nd-and-8 with 13:16 left in the opening quarter. Locker showed a nice cut to leave Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis trailing. He then completed the drive with an excellent throw to tight end Jared Cook that beat safety Antoine Bethea on a post route. All his good work in the first half, however, was undone with his interception on 1st-and-10 with 5:40 left in the third quarter. Backed up at his own one-yard line, Locker forced the ball to wide receiver Nate Washington, baited by the space given by Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn. That proved costly, as Vaughn pounced and intercepted the ball at the three yard line before stumping into the end zone. With the Titans leading by six, it was a throw that Locker didn’t need to make and one he’ll look back on with his hands covering his eyes.
Dominant Defensive Line
While much of the Titans defense didn’t do much to get you excited, their defensive line had some standout performances. Rushing the passer 26 times, defensive end Derrick Morgan produced a sack, three hits and four hurries, good for a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating (PRP) of 24.0. That impressive number was dwarfed by sub-package defensive tackle Karl Klug who, with two sacks, a hit and three hurries from nine pass rushes, had a PRP Rating of 55.6. The other standout on the line, Sen’Derrick Marks, was solid as a pass rusher, with his PRP Rating of 15.0 coming from five hurries on 25 snaps as a pass rusher. However, it was his work against the run that was particularly impressive, with all four of his tackles resulting in a defensive stop, giving him a Run Stop Percentage of 17.4% from his 23 snaps against the run.
Britt’s Big Day
Locker’s poor throw on the Vaughn interception return for a touchdown may have ruined his day, but the combination of he and Kenny Britt showed further signs of promise as the Titans look towards 2013. With eight receptions from the nine thrown his way, Britt picked up 143 yards, for an average of 17.9 yards per catch. Coming from 34 snaps in route, that gives him a Yards Per Route Run average of 4.47. Those numbers were inflated thanks to two of his receptions combining to go for 92 yards combined. That included a fantastic one handed grab on 1st-and-10 with 1:14 left in the second quarter. Beating cornerback Vontae Davis on a go route, he caught the ball with his left hand despite pass interference by the Colts’ defensive back. If only they could have got the ball to him more in the second half.
Indianapolis – Three Performances of Note
Andrew Luck starring in… Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
While he again delivered a victory for the Colts, quarterback Andrew Luck continues to flip between making the throws that saw him drafted first overall back in April’s NFL Draft, and someone who looks like he thinks he’s still playing against college defenses. While it should have been ruled a sack as his knee was down, what on earth was Luck thinking throwing the pass that was returned for a touchdown by Titans’ linebacker Will Witherspoon on 3rd-and-3 with 4:51 left in the second quarter? Heading to the ground under duress from Morgan, that’s an occasion where Luck needs to just take the sack. He was at his best however, on 3rd-and-5 with 6:38 left in the game, only to be let down by receiver Donnie Avery. Scrambling away from pressure and throwing on the run, Luck placed the ball exactly where it needed to be for Avery in the back corner of the end zone. As the Colts look to rubber stamp a playoff spot, those are the kind of throws Colts fans will want to see, not passes like the one Witherspoon ran back for a touchdown the other way.
After a vintage performance against the Detroit Lions a week ago, Dwight Freeney was held in check as a pass rusher this week. With just two pressures from 31 snaps as a pass rusher, one each against Michael Roos and Mike Otto, he had a PRP Rating of just 4.8. Against the run he wasn’t dominated by opposing blockers, except for when the officials missed tight end Craig Stevens drag him to the ground, but he just didn’t do anything of merit with no tackles registered from his 14 snaps in run defense. With two strong performances back to back before this week, Colts fans will be hoping to see Freeney back to that form for the rest of the season and not the lacklustre performances that have plagued his season.
Offensive Line Struggles
With the big day from three players on the Titans’ defensive line, naturally the opposite was true for most of the Colts’ offensive line. With the exception of left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who was perfect in pass protection and a force as a run blocker, the Colts’ line struggled to protect Luck. Left guard Seth Olsen, back on the field for the first time since being injured in Week 3, lead the team with a hit and six hurries allowed, giving him a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of just 86.2. Right guard Mike McGlynn wasn’t far behind with five hurries allowed and a PBE Rating of 90.1. At right tackle, neither Winston Justice nor Jeff Linkenbach could handle Morgan, with PBE Ratings of 81.8 and 81.3 respectively.
– Titans’ running back Chris Johnson forced just one missed tackle from 22 touches on offense, and averaged just 1.68 Yards After Contact Per Attempt.
– As a unit the Titans’ offensive line allowed just one hit on quarterback Jake Locker.
– With three missed tackles, Colts’ cornerback Cassius Vaughn accounted for half of the team’s total.
With the best performance of his career, Colts’ left tackle Anthony Castonzo barely put a foot wrong all game, dominating both as a run blocker and in pass protection.
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