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Notebook: Thrilling Win Streak Ends

Posted Oct 28, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans played in their third consecutive thriller, but on Sunday fell victim to a chilling comeback by the Colts.

Tennessee appeared on track for its third win in a row and led most of the game. It kept AFC South rival Indianapolis out of the end zone for more than 56 minutes, but the Colts tied it at 13 late and mounted an 80-yard drive in overtime for a 19-13 win.

“I am still a little stunned and shocked; still don’t see how we lost the game,” Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “I am still at a loss about that, but we let them hang around. It was a seven-point game in the fourth quarter and anything can happen when you give them a chance like that, and they tied it up.”

Colts running back Vick Ballard caught a screen pass from Andrew Luck and turned it into the decisive 16-yard score 4 minutes, 49 seconds into overtime. The catch-and-run ended with Ballard diving from the 5-yard line, and rotating his body so that it pointed to the sky as he hit the pylon before landing out of bounds.

The play, which was reviewed and confirmed, happened two plays after Luck converted third-and-8 from the Tennessee 36 with a 20-yard pass to Reggie Wayne.

Had the Titans been able to force a field goal, Tennessee’s offense would have gotten a chance to match with a field goal or win with a TD.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said the Titans should have put the game away sooner.

“When you lose like this, it’s hard to enjoy anything at this moment. Again, life goes on tomorrow,” Munchak said. “We’ll look at the tape and know we’ve got to improve quite a few things. It’ll be disappointing when we see all the plays that we probably could have made that would have made a difference in the game. That’s for all of us. That’s the players, coaches. We are all in this thing together.”

After Colts running back Delone Carter scored from 1 yard to tie the game and cap a 14-play, 80-yard drive, the Titans got the ball back with 3:24 left in regulation.

Making his fourth consecutive start in place of injured second-year pro Jake Locker, Hasselbeck tried to engineer his third straight game-winning drive. The Titans drove 38 yards to the Indianapolis 42-yard line with 1:15 remaining. Tennessee, however, suffered from a 1-yard rush by Chris Johnson, and incomplete pass that floated over Jared Cook’s head and an incompletion on a ball thrown to Kenny Britt that appeared to be inadvertently deflected by Colts linebacker Pat Angerer.

“We needed to get at least to the 35-yard line,” Hasselbeck said. “It was a windy day so we wanted to get closer if we could, but we wanted to get to the 35-yard line for a field goal attempt to win the game.”

Instead of attempting a 59-yard field goal with the wind at the back of Rob Bironas, the Titans opted to punt the ball deep and try to force a punt by the Colts.

Tennessee appeared to have something better than that when Luck completed a short pass to tight end Dwayne Allen. Colin McCarthy met Allen at the Indianapolis 28 and Akeem Ayers stripped the ball. It appeared that Alterraun Verner recovered the ball for the Titans near the 24 with 18 seconds remaining, but officials ruled that Allen’s forward progress had stopped before he fumbled the ball.

“I thought it was a fumble,” Ayers said. “I saw Colin wrap him up, and so I just went for the ball. I just felt it was a fumble. I really didn’t see the whole play, but from my point of view, it was a fumble. It shouldn’t have been that close, anyway. We made a lot of mistakes and had penalties early. It should never have come down to that point, if we had capitalized on the things we needed to do early on in the game.”

PENALTIES ERASE CATCHES, TURNOVER: The Titans were assessed eight penalties for 65 yards, but they included hidden damages.

With the score tied at three, an offensive pass interference penalty against Britt erased a 43-yard completion on the first play of the second quarter, sending the ball from the Indianapolis 23 to the Tennessee 24 and forcing a punt.

An offsides penalty against Mike Martin erased a forced fumble by Michael Griffin that Kamerion Wimbley recovered at the Indianapolis 45 on the Colts’ next possession.

The Titans overcame two offensive pass interference penalties on their next possession. The first was called against Kendall Wright on an incomplete pass, and the second took away a 22-yard TD to Britt.

200TH TD FOR HASSELBECK: The Titans overcame the final pass interference against Britt when Hasselbeck completed a 23-yarder to Wright for a 10-3 lead with one minute remaining in the first half.

It was the 200th career TD pass for Hasselbeck, who is one of 32 players in NFL history to reach that milestone.

The QB put the ball up for Wright to make a play, and the rookie delivered with steady hands and quick footwork for his third career touchdown.

“Matt trusted me, and I just had to make the catch,” Wright said. “It was good, but I’d much rather have the win.”

Hasselbeck finished 22-of-29 passing for 236 yards with one TD and no interceptions for a passer rating of 110.7.

99 FOR JOHNSON: Johnson rushed for 99 yards on 21 carries (averaging 4.7 per carry). It marked the third consecutive game in which Johnson rushed for at least 90 yards.

Sunday’s performance came in spite of the absence of starting left tackle Michael Roos, who was inactive, and starting right guard Leroy Harris, who missed most of the game after suffering a knee injury on the first possession of the game. Mike Otto started for Roos, and Kevin Matthews relieved Harris.

“I am very impressed (with the line),” Johnson said. “Those guys went out there and fought hard. We had a couple of guys go down and those guys stepped up and held their own. So, in that situation, we had a chance to run the ball a little bit and make a couple of plays.”

Johnson has 595 yards on 131 carries this season.

GRIFFIN BLOCKS FG, GETS PICK: Griffin recorded the first blocked field goal of his six-year career when he smacked Adam Vinatieri’s 37-yard attempt across the field toward Tennessee’s sideline. Verner hustled to the ball to keep it in bounds, and Jordan Babineaux ran with it 42 yards, but Indianapolis reserve tight end Weslye Saunders, whom the Colts recently picked up after the Steelers waived him, caught Babineaux at the Indianapolis 31-yard line to end the half.

Griffin also recorded his 18th career interception when he broke on a deep ball thrown by Luck and snared it in the end zone with a diving grab in the third quarter.

ROOS’ STREAK ENDS: Roos ended his consecutive games and starts streak at 119 on Sunday. Roos underwent an appendectomy Monday, and the Titans wanted to play it safe with the eight-year NFL veteran.

Roos started immediately as a rookie. His streak ended less than 10 games shy of fifth place in franchise history (Eddie George, 128), but more than 100 shy of his position coach Bruce Matthews, who made 229 consecutive starts from 1987-2001 and played in a total of 296 games with the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans.

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