NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts may start slow. They sure know how to finish. Gardner Minshew threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Michael Pittman with 2:31 left in overtime and the Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 31-28 Sunday for their fourth straight victory to keep pace in the playoff race in the AFC. […]
Minshew throws for TD in OT as the Colts win 4th straight, down Titans 31-28
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts may start slow.
They sure know how to finish.
Gardner Minshew threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Michael Pittman with 2:31 left in overtime and the Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 31-28 Sunday for their fourth straight victory to keep pace in the playoff race in the AFC.
“It’s awesome to see our guys fight every single week and just keep finding ways to win,” first-year Colts coach Shane Steichen said.
The Colts (7-5) had to score a touchdown after Nick Folk made a 46-yard field goal with 4:19 left in overtime to put Tennessee up 28-25.
Indianapolis came in holding the seventh and last spot in the AFC. The Colts leave town having swept their AFC South rival for the first time since 2018.
“It really feels good to beat them back to back because they beat us back to back, and we’ve been trading off,” Pittman said of sweeping the Titans. “So it feels good to give it back to them.”
Tennessee (4-8) lost its first true home game this season and has yet to win consecutive games overall.
The Titans not only blew a 17-7 lead, but Folk missed his first extra point this season with 5:26 left in regulation that could have put Tennessee up 26-25.
Backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill had to fill in on the missed PAT with usual holder and punter Ryan Stonehouse knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter with an injured left leg. Stonehouse was seen leaving the stadium on crutches with his leg in a full brace.
“Proud of the way that we fought, and we lost,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
He also noted the Titans have to protect their punter.
Special teams helped the Colts score 10 points off Nick Cross’ blocked punt that Grant Stuard returned 18 yards for a TD late in the third quarter. Then Tony Brown forced a fumble on Stonehouse’s next punt attempt, running into his left leg.
Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin noted special teams actually helped impact 11 total points.
“You knock the punter out of the game, they can’t kick the extra point,” Franklin said. “That’s how this game gets to overtime. I told all the young guys, I said ‘Look, that’s how you know your special teams is really making plays, when they’re affecting the outcome of the game.’ They stood tall today, for sure.”
Minshew threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns as he won his fourth straight game for the first time in his five NFL seasons. Pittman finished with 11 catches for 105 yards with the game-winning TD, and Alec Pierce had three receptions for 100 yards and a TD.
The Colts sacked rookie Will Levis six times despite being outgained 381-355. Tennessee held the ball for more than 38 minutes.
Indianapolis easily could’ve turned this into a rout except for the Colts’ struggles inside the Titans 10.
The Colts had first-and-goal four times in regulation only to settle for three of Matt Gay’s four field goals. They lost a fumble on another trip.
Gay’s fourth field goal, a 28-yarder, came with 11:34 left off Brown’s forced fumble on Stonehouse’s punt attempt.
“We probably should’ve won by more points actually, but they are a very well-coached team and it’s never easy,” Pittman said of playing the Titans.
This was a costly loss for Tennessee.
Derrick Henry ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns before leaving early in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He went to the locker room and never returned.
The Titans also lost two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons to an injured right knee, and Folk had to punt once Stonehouse was knocked out of the game.
The two-time NFL rushing champ tied Marshawn Lynch with his first TD run of the game. Then he tied Priest Holmes with his second, a 5-yarder early in the second quarter, at No. 15 all time with the 86th rushing TD of his career.
Going to overtime was only the capper on a wild day. The Colts tried a 2-point conversion after Stuard’s TD off the blocked punt. Minshew’s pass was intercepted by Amani Hooker who went the distance giving Tennessee two points.
Levis fumbled early trying to pass, and the Titans rookie quarterback recovered after Colts safety Julian Blackmon couldn’t hold onto the ball.
Folk had to punt twice and averaged 39 yards. The 39-year-old veteran said this was his first punt in the NFL since his college days at Arizona, “I did it in the Pac-10 a long time ago.”
Colts RT Braden Smith hurt a knee on their opening drive and didn’t return. He was on the injury report coming into this game after being given Friday off for rest. Rookie Blake Freeland replaced him.
The Titans lost Simmons midway through the third quarter. Tight end Josh Whyle also was knocked out of the game with an injured knee. Cornerback Kristian Fulton also was hurt.
The Colts visit Cincinnati to wrap up a two-game road swing.
The Titans hit the road with a prime-time game Dec. 11 at Miami.
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