Final

Colts 29

(10-3, 6-1 away)

Titans 27

(9-4, 5-1 home)

1:00 PM ET, December 7, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
IND 3 9 17 029
TEN 10 0 3 1427

Colts grab AFC South control

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Becoming road warriors may have helped the Indianapolis Colts find their way home -- at least once -- for the playoffs.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Colts: How important was it for Indy to hold on late, considering how last week's game ended?
This was a big win for the Colts after last week's close loss. This team has put together a great season and the defense has a bend but don't break philosophy that seems to make plays when it counts. It's great that QB Peyton Manning and coach Tony Dungy were able to get this big victory and sweep the season series.

Question on the Titans: Did this loss essentially kill their Super Bowl hopes since they'll likely be a wild card?
If the Titans are the wild card, it'll be in a ton of trouble. The Titans are playing with an injured quarterback and an inconsistent running game. Having to go on the road with those components could be the death knell for the Titans' Super Bowl hopes. It needs to win its final three games and hope for a little help to avoid this situation.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Edgerrin James ran for two touchdowns and Mike Vanderjagt kicked five field goals Sunday as the Colts beat Tennessee 29-27 to sweep the defending division champion Titans, taking control of the AFC South with three games remaining.

The Colts (10-3) improved to 6-1 on the road, putting them on track for their first division title since winning the AFC East in 1999, and the chance to host at least a wild-card game.

They did it by scoring 19 straight points and forcing four fumbles, which they turned into nine points. They also held the ball for nearly 34 minutes.

"We had to win this game to have control of the division," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "Now we do. Now we don't have to rely on any help from anyone else. If we win our games, we'll be in good shape."

In this game featuring would-be MVP quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Steve McNair, Manning easily outplayed McNair, even using his legs to scramble for a couple of first downs. He ran for 20 yards and was 22-of-34 for 228 yards in setting a club record with his 93rd consecutive start.

"I'd like to think I've got enough toughness to play the position," Manning said.

McNair sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and aggravated his already sore right calf, but he still nearly rallied the Titans (9-4) to a tie. He threw two touchdown passes in the final 9:24 and even ran for a 2-point conversion.

McNair pulled the Titans within 29-27 with 1:52 to go with his second TD toss, a 2-yarder to Derrick Mason. McNair tried to find Mason again on the 2-point conversion, but defensive end Dwight Freeney, held to one sack, tipped the ball, and it fell incomplete.

The Tennessee defense forced the Colts to punt with 50 seconds left, giving McNair plenty of time. But Justin McCareins fumbled after an 11-yard return, and Anthony Floyd recovered for the Colts.

McNair finished 22-of-38 for 235 yards.

"We control our own destiny as far as our playoff future, but the division title is out of our hands right now," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

The best way to slow down McNair was to keep him and the NFL's best offense in time of possession off the field entirely. The Colts did that during a nearly 15-minute stretch in which they ran 34 straight offensive plays.

"You're never comfortable when Steve is on the other side," Dungy said. "I thought he played great. We were fortunate in that we were able to keep the ball away from him a lot."

The Titans, who had won 10 consecutive home games, were kept out of Colts territory from the end of the first quarter until late in the third because of three fumbles.

Eddie Berlin, returning kicks for the first time this season, fumbled twice. Vanderjagt kicked field goals after each, including a 23-yarder for a 12-10 lead just before halftime.

"It was really a nightmare," Berlin said. "I was trying to make a play so badly out there and get a chance at some returns."

Indianapolis could do little wrong for much of the game.

James bobbled a handoff and still ran in for a 2-yard touchdown on the Colts' opening drive of the third quarter for a 19-10 lead.

Gary Anderson's second field goal, a 40-yarder, made it 22-13. But Manning needed only four plays to answer. He connected with Marvin Harrison for a 16-yarder and a 42-yarder, and James scored on a 5-yard run for a 29-13 lead. James finished with 27 carries for 95 yards.

Tennessee led 10-3 after the first quarter on McNair's 2-yard TD scramble on third-and-1.

Vanderjagt kicked field goals of 35, 36, 26, 23 and 21 yards. His 26-yarder in the third period gave him 37 consecutive field goals, second-longest streak to Anderson's 40.

Game notes


Vanderjagt last kicked five field goals on Oct. 13, 2002, against Baltimore. ... A 9-yarder from Manning to Harrison in the second period was their 600th completion, making them only the second duo with 600 passes and at least 8,000 yards. The first? Jim Kelly and Andre Reed with Buffalo. ... Mason caught a 15-yarder from McNair in the third quarter, giving him more than 1,000 yards receiving for a third straight season, the first receiver to do that in franchise history. ... Titans TE Frank Wycheck finished with three catches, giving him 501 for his career. He is only the fourth tight end in NFL history with at least 500 career receptions.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERINDTEN
indFG7:40Mike Vanderjagt 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yds, 0:58
2210
indTD0:43Edgerrin James, 5 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 68 yds, 1:51
2813
ind0:43
Drive info: 4 plays, 68 yds, 1:51
2913
FOURTH QUARTERINDTEN
tenTD1:57Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 48 yds, 0:43
2927
FIRST QUARTERINDTEN
tenFG10:42Gary Anderson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 45 yds, 4:12
03
indFG7:29Mike Vanderjagt 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 52 yds, 2:10
33
SECOND QUARTERINDTEN
indFG9:30Mike Vanderjagt 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 26 yds, 2:11
610
FIRST QUARTERINDTEN
tenTD2:00Steve McNair, 2 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 4:06
39
THIRD QUARTERINDTEN
indTD9:55Edgerrin James, 2 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yds, 4:16
1810
FIRST QUARTERINDTEN
ten2:00
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 4:06
310
SECOND QUARTERINDTEN
indFG0:13Mike Vanderjagt 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 24 yds, 0:48
1210
THIRD QUARTERINDTEN
ind9:55
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yds, 4:16
1910
tenFG2:48Gary Anderson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 55 yds, 3:43
2213
SECOND QUARTERINDTEN
indFG2:00Mike Vanderjagt 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 66 yds, 5:17
910
FOURTH QUARTERINDTEN
tenTD10:48Touchdown(Steve McNair run for 2pt conversion)
Drive info: 13 plays, 69 yds, 14:02
2921