Beating lowly Colts big to some Titans
Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011 7:02 pm
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Matt Hasselbeck has been around the NFL long enough to know winning matters most. Now if only his Titans teammates could share his enthusiasm.
Hasselbeck threw for 224 yards and a touchdown, and Tennessee snapped a two-game skid by keeping the Indianapolis Colts winless Sunday with a 27-10 victory. The Titans still have issues to work out with the run game and an offense that struggled at times to move the ball against the Colts, and that may be why Hasselbeck said he wished his teammates were more excited over what he called a big win.
“Yeah, we need it,” Hasselbeck said of the win. “I’ve had some years where you just can’t get a break and then other years where despite you kind of shooting yourself in the foot early in the season you’re still not out of it. You’ve still got a chance … You can’t ask for a whole lot more, and we control our destiny in a way here.”
The Titans (4-3) had gone three weeks without winning thanks to their bye week, and they also snapped a five-game skid in this AFC South rivalry with the Colts, notching their first win since Oct. 27, 2008, when they last won the division.
But Peyton Manning watched from the sidelines as he recovers from his latest neck surgery, and the Colts were coming off a 62-7 loss to New Orleans.
“This is a win we were supposed to get I feel like,” Titans receiver Nate Washington said. “I’m not going to come in here and say that we didn’t expect this. I am very happy about the win, but I’m not clicking my heels.”
Washington scored twice himself, running in three yards for a TD off a lateral from Hasselbeck, and he caught a 14-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Rob Bironas also kicked two field goals, and Jason McCourty recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a TD.
The Titans sacked Curtis Painter twice and intercepted him twice, turning the picks into 14 points. They also stopped the Colts (0-8) twice on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis did outgain Tennessee 399-311 on offense, and Painter ran for 79 yards. The Colts also hurt themselves with a season-high 10 penalties for 66 yards, which helped pin them deep in their own territory drive after drive. Colts safety Antoine Bethea said they will stay positive while working to get better.
“If we could put our finger on it, obviously we would do it and things would be turned around right now,” Bethea said.
Tennessee’s biggest issue remains the NFL’s worst running game. The Titans came in averaging 64.3 yards, and they got only 96 against a Colts defense that had been giving up 150.9 yards per game. Worse, Titans coach Mike Munchak may be facing a running back controversy because backup Javon Ringer with more yards (60) than Chris Johnson (34) on the same amount of carries, and Ringer caught a team-high five passes for 42 yards more.
Ringer also was on the field for all but one carry in the fourth quarter.
Munchak said they rotated both but thinks each game will be different, depending on the flow.
Johnson said he isn’t upset or frustrated and thinks it will be easier correcting mistakes off a victory. But he is the back with the $53 million contract extension, and hears boos when he gets tackled at the line of scrimmage or for a loss.
“I see us getting better,” Johnson said. “It’s just a situation where we are not where we want to be at this time, and it is a situation where we have to keep working.”
Published in The Messenger 10.31.11