Titans, Colts on same bumpy road
Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 7:01 pm
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts are coming off a blowout loss and looking for the relief their first win of the season will bring. The Tennessee Titans are ticked off, upset and just plain embarrassed by a two-game skid that includes their most lopsided defeat since moving into their stadium in 1999.
The two teams used to fighting for the top of the AFC South simply want a victory Sunday to show to themselves and everyone that they’re for real.
“You have to prove that wasn’t you,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said of losing to Pittsburgh and Houston by a combined score of 79-24. “It starts to become a pattern when you lose two games in a row by large scores. We have to make that go away, we have to erase that memory and just worry about us and doing our jobs in our building. I know that we believe in what we can do, and that is all that really matters right now.”
A challenging season without Peyton Manning turned uglier for the Colts (0-7) with a 62-7 loss to the Saints last week. Colts center Jeff Saturday said motivation isn’t a problem, not against Tennessee, the only team other than Indianapolis to win the AFC South.
“We have had some great battles, and I have a ton of respect for the way they play football and we have had some great games over the years,” Saturday said. “Motivation wouldn’t have been an issue regardless, but coming off of a (62-7) whipping, you can’t wait to get back on the field and try to get some redemption.”
The Titans (3-3) were booed by their home fans during last week’s 41-7 loss to Houston in which Tennessee blew the divisional lead. The run game that has been a staple of this franchise since 1996 still ranks last in the NFL, averaging a meager 64.3 yards per game, and critics are targeting Chris Johnson with his preseason holdout and $53 million contract extension as the cause.
“We’re having a tough year, he’s having a tough year, they’re having a tough year,” Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said. “He’s definitely a tough challenge for us because he can take it to the end zone at any given time.”
Tennessee hopes to get Johnson running early and often against an Indianapolis defense giving up 150.9 yards per game, 31st in the NFL. But Munchak cautions that the Colts have given up yards in the second half when opponents have had leads. That’s something the Titans haven’t been able to do in this skid.
Munchak also has warned his Titans against taking the Colts’ winless mark as a sign that Indianapolis hasn’t been competitive. He argues the Colts easily could be 5-2 with just a few plays, and Titans who remember their own 0-6 start in 2009 see many of the same Colts playing for Indianapolis even with Manning out after neck surgery.
The Colts have won five straight in this series, but they swept last season’s games by a combined five points against a Tennessee team that finished 6-10.
Titans cornerback Cort-land Finnegan ticked off the names of tight end Dallas Clark, receivers Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, along with rookie running back Delone Carter as reasons the Colts remain explosive.
Published in The Messenger 10.28.11