Andrew Luck converted a third-down pass to T.Y. Hilton late in the fourth quarter, icing a 24-17 Indianapolis Colts victory over the surging Tennessee Titans. Here’s what we learned in the Week 11 AFC South tilt:
1. Through two quarters, Luck was treating the Titans like Marcus Mariota treated the Packers last week. The Colts jumped out to a 21-0 lead, enjoying a dominant 234-77 edge in total yards with just over four minutes remaining in the first half. Brutal drops by Hilton and Dwayne Allen helped ease the Titans back into a one-score game. Mirroring his Week 9 performance in Green Bay, Luck closed out the victory with a clutch third-down conversion to Hilton, keeping the ball out of his opponent’s hands to kill the clock. The Colts extended their winning streak over the Titans to 11 games.
2. Backed into obvious passing situations on third downs early in the game, Mariota shook off a slow start to lead a spirited comeback attempt. His beautiful 34-yard play-action touchdown pass to Tajae Sharpe moved him past Warren Moon for most consecutive games (7) in franchise history with two or more scoring passes. His first touchdown throw was just as impressive, as he evaded a Hassan Ridgeway sack and fired a bullet to DeMarco Murray from three yards out. In 23 career starts, Mariota has 31 touchdowns without an interception in the red zone. Over his last seven games, Mariota has completed 67.6 percent of his passes at 8.4 yards per attempt for a 19:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 116.8 passer rating.
3. As healthy as they’ve been all season — including Week 1 — the Colts defense deserves credit for limiting Murray to 3.3 yards per carry and stuffed him on fourth-and-short with the game on the line. The beleaguered pass rush also had its finest performance of the season, sacking Mariota five times. Although the secondary surrendered a few big plays, the improvement in tackling was noticeable. If the defense continues to play at this level, Indianapolis will make up ground on Houston by the time the two teams meet again in Week 14.
5. Armed with an extra first-round pick thanks to the Jared Goff trade with the Rams, the Titans are likely to place an emphasis on cornerback in the offseason. Coach Mike Mularkey acknowledged as much as to CBS’ Solomon Wilcots, stating that the position has been an issue all season long. Perrish Cox has been victimized for big plays and Brice McCain is merely a place-holder until the team finds an upgrade.