Things didn't improve much in the second quarter when a promising drive ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal instead of a much-needed touchdown. Then came a defensive stand that seemed to be evidence of a team crumbling apart.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, cornerback Cassius Vaughn and outside linebacker Erik Walden were flagged for personal fouls on consecutive plays, handing Tennessee 41 yards in field position and three points on the scoreboard to take a 17-3 lead.
Walden's offense was the most egregious, coming on a head-butt delivered to helmet-less Titans tight end Delanie Walker.
"I'm sure something obviously is going to come down with the league," Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano said Friday. "You just hope and pray it's nothing too serious. But you got to keep your cool. He said it last night in talking to you guys (media), and we talked about it as soon as they got off the field. We talked to all those guys. It doesn't matter, they always catch the second guy. That's forever."
Instead of contributing to its downfall, however, the misbegotten drive seemed to fuel Indianapolis.
The Colts answered with a 50-yard Vinatieri field goal just before the half then took the ball 74 yards on 11 plays, ending with a 6-yard touchdown run by Donald Brown to start the third quarter.
Luck reportedly gave an impassioned talk in the locker room at the half, but tight end Coby Fleener said his former Stanford teammate didn't need many words.
"He said maybe one or two sentences and led the breakdown," Fleener said. "That was enough to get his point across. It didn't have to be a five-minute, drawn-out speech."
The Colts got the break they needed on the next play when Titans return man Devon Wylie fumbled the kickoff. Indianapolis running back Boom Herron recovered at Tennessee's 20-yard line, and Luck made the most of a broken play to put the Colts ahead for good.