While the Colts started very slowly, the Titans got a big pass to Damian Williams to set up a long field goal by Rob Bironas to open scoring in the first quarter, then got another big break when Patrick Bailey blocked a Colts punt in the end zone and Jason McCourty got his first and probably easiest ever NFL touchdown by simply catching the ball. Another long pass to Williams set up another long Bironas field goal to make it 13-0, then the first good offensive possession of the game at the end of the first half ended in a Nate Washington touchdown to give the Titans a 20-0 halftime lead.
Offensively, the Colts had a lot more success in the second half, at one point halving the deficit, but a Curtis Painter pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Jason Jones and went right to Barrett Ruud. Seven plays later, Nate Washington had his second touchdown of the game and the Titans were up 27-10. The Colts moved the ball after that, but the game was never in any real doubt again.
After the jump, more thoughts on the game and the players who stood out and didn't:
- Chris Johnson? 14 carries, 34 yards rushing. 5 targets, 3 catches, 17 yards.
- Javon Ringer? 14 carries, 60 yards. 6 targets, 5 catches, 42 yards. The Titans were alternating them by series in the second half, and Ringer was consistently the harder, more effective runner.
- Damian Williams' two grabs were the highlights of his day, as he totaled 2 catches for 7 yards on his other three targets. The other wideouts were quiet, as Ringer's 5 catches led the team and his 42 yards were second behind Williams' total of 60.
- Matt Hasselbeck mostly played a Matt Hasselbeck game. There were some ugly incompletions where the receivers didn't seem to be on the same page, but he was mostly efficient at executing his game. Final stats were 23 of 33, 224 yards, a TD, no interceptions, and a sack he probably should've avoided.
- The Colts called 58 runs and 19 passes. Delone Carter averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his 9 runs. That's nuts. Donald Brown was less effective, 10 for 33, but the Titans did not have a good game in rushing defense today.
- Those rush defense numbers do not include 7 Curtis Painter scrambles for 79 yards. Granted, most of those came in 27-10 garbage time, but that's an issue to watch going forward.
- I didn't chart personnel groupings, but the Titans played more nickel than I was expecting, though not quite as much as they've done against the Colts in the past when they played base for maybe 8-10 plays a game.
- Both Karl Klug and Jason Jones had nice moves for sacks, though to be fair they were playing against guys who probably shouldn't be getting regular snaps in the NFL. In fact, the Colts benched LG Olsen after Klug's early sack.
- The Titans did a good job of taking advantage of poor Colts special teams. Not just the punt block, but solid tackling on kickoff returns and Marc Mariani had a couple good punt returns.
- The Titans started two first half possessions in Colts territory and came away with 0 points. They finally did get the TD after the fourth quarter interception put them in plus territory, but that needs to change.
- Not really Titans, but thanks to Jim Caldwell for his decision to kick field goal down 20-0 on the first possession of the second half. It's a different ballgame if the Titans are backed up and limited in the playbook or if it's a 20-7 and later 20-14 game.
- I don't know how much to rate the second half defensive issues, but Palmer WAS doing a pretty decent job in the short quick passing game.
Good recap Tom. I did see a couple things in the run game. First, Amhard Hall does not block well at all. I saw several play where his man came off the block almost immediately to CJ. Second, Ringer appears to see better holes than CJ. I think it could be because the defense stacks less against the run with Ringer in than with CJ. Third CJ did appear to run harder and make a couple moves when he could. Last, Ringer ran really well and was able to break a few tackles. Did you see the similar things?
Also, this offense needs to start targeting Cookie more. He had only two targets and caught them both and can be a real threat. Hasselback does not seem to look his way enough for him to be a focal point.
I am not sure that we can say the Titans were able to "right the ship" today with this win. At most, they plugged a few holes in the ship and stopped it from sinking. I wish I could be more positive, but the offense looked anemic at times. And the defence, which seemed quite good in the first half, just melted away in the second half. But for the two turnovers today and the blocked punt, the result of this game might have been quite different. With those turnovers and special teams play, this should have been a 28 point win.
Tom, there is one thing that I am hoping you can do this week and that is compare the runs of Johnson and Ringer - since they both had an equal number of touches and Ringer got almost twice as many yards. The popular view of those who have been Johnson apologists seems to be that he doesn't run as well because he faces 8 and 9 man fronts, whereas Ringer faces a completely different type of defence. I find that hard to believe given CJ's ineffectiveness. But your weekly analysis of the running game should find the truth.