By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — COLTS 22, TITANS 14
Player of the Game
Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts
The 40-year-old kicker continued his outstanding 18th season by providing Indianapolis' only offense until the decisive final drive. Vinatieri tied a career high with five field goals and tied an NFL record with his 16th 100-point season. Sometimes it's easy to overlook the performance of special teams stars. Not on Sunday, when for much of the game the placekicker was the most dangerous offensive weapon on the field.
Indianapolis gets due credit for an amazing final drive that traveled 92 yards on 11 plays and ate 6 minutes, 12 seconds off the clock. But 78 of the team's 104 rushing yards came on the last possession. The offense managed just 18 first downs and 264 total yards. Quarterback Andrew Luck struggled with his accuracy, completing 17 of 32 attempts for 200 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Though Luck's 24-yard run on third-and-2 from his own 43 was one of the most critical plays of the final drive. Donald Brown again proved to be a Titans killer, scoring the Colts' only touchdown on a 4-yard run.
The defense surrendered 162 rushing yards and 24 first downs, but they made stops when it mattered and forced four turnovers to keep Indianapolis in the game. Demoted cornerback Cassius Vaughn had a pair of interceptions, and linebacker Jerrell Freeman added a fumble recovery and an interception that snuffed out the Titans' final drive. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis also got into the act, forcing a fumble on a third-quarter sack. Mathis has 15.5 sacks for the season and needs just half a sack to tie Dwight Freeney's single-season and career records.
Special Teams: A
Vinatieri's field goals were far from chip shots. He connected from 49, 48, 47, 45 and 37 yards under extreme pressure to support an offense that seemingly was stuck in neutral. New return man Chris Rainey gained 27 yards on three punt returns and averaged 22.5 yards on two kickoff returns. And punter Pat McAfee averaged 45.4 yards on five punts.