12:23 PM EST, December 9, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS - A season earlier, it was the Colts who saved themselves from infamy with a victory over their divisional opponent four hours to the south.
In December of 2012, they had a chance to continue one of the more remarkable one-year turnarounds in NFL history. Now its a playoff team from Indianapolis facing a Titans team reduced the spoiler role, even if their record isn't as dire as the Colts a season ago.
While Tennessee was strong as an underdog early, the Colts found themselves in the second half and beat the Titans 27-23 Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis improves to 9-4 on the season and solidifies its hold on the fifth seed in the AFC playoff race.
Early on the Titans set the tone with a strong opening drive of 80 yards that ended in a Jake Locker 18-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook to make it 7-0.
T.Y. Hilton helped to break the ice for the Colts offense with a shifting 36-yard pass completion that set up an Andrew Luck touchdown to Reggie Wayne later in the drive to tie the game at seven.
The second quarter, however, belonged to the Titans. Locker hit Kenny Britt on a 46-yard pass completion to set up a 40-yard Rob Bironas field goal to give Tennessee a 10-7 lead. Luck's attempt to make a play resulted in another Titans score when his pass while in the grasp of the defender found the hands of linebacker Will Witherspoon.
He would run uncontested 40-yards for a touchdown which stood after review and gave Tennessee a 17-7 lead. Locker completed another 46-yard pass to Britt in the final two minutes to set up a second Bironas field goal to make it 20-7 at the half.
Like many times this season the Colts saved their best for the second half. A 14-play 80-yard drive led by Luck was capped by a two-yard run by Delone Carter to make it 20-14. The Colts defense then completed the comeback when Cassius Vaughn stepped in front of a Locker deep in Titans' territory and turned around and scored to make it 21-20.
After that it was a battle of field goals. Tennessee briefly took the lead when Bironas hit a 25-yard field goal to make it 23-21. The Colts responded on the next drive with a long 53-yard field goal by Vinatieri to give the Colts the lead back.
A turnovers helped to produce more points for the Colts later in the fourth as Darius Butler picked off a Locker pass in Titans territory. Vinatieri hit another field goal to make it 27-23 and the Colts defense held Tennessee's offense in check for the remainder of the game.