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Colts Build Early Lead; Hang On for 30-28 Win Over Titans

From: The Sports Network

Peyton Manning passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, and the Indianapolis Colts snapped a three-game losing streak with a 30-28 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night.

The game, while competitive, wasn’t as close as the final score. The Titans scored a last-second touchdown for the final margin.

Coming off a dreadful stretch where he threw 11 interceptions in three Colts losses, Manning connected with Pierre Garcon for both of his touchdown passes in a bounce-back performance.

The four-time NFL MVP was 25-of-35 passing — but more importantly, he was mistake-free for the first time in nearly a month and the Colts (7-6) won’t lose any ground to Jacksonville in the AFC South.

Instead of turning the ball over himself, Manning and Indianapolis capitalized on a slew of Titans mistakes for a 21-7 lead at halftime.

“We protected the ball better, which is always key, and got just a really good win on the road in the division,” said Manning.

Javarris James rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown for the Colts and Garcon ended with six catches for 93 yards. Blair White caught seven balls for 52 yards in the win, but got in the way of a potential Manning-to-Reggie Wayne touchdown.

Garcon earned 43 of his yards the hard way, breaking three tackles for a key first down that set up Adam Vinatieri’s 47-yard field goal in the final minutes. Those points ended up being the difference.

On the previous possession, Titans head coach Jeff Fisher opted to punt on 4th-and-1 at their own 34-yard line rather than try for a first down and potential go-ahead touchdown.

“I had three timeouts and it was 4:57 when I looked up at the clock,” said Fisher. “I thought we needed to have the ball last. You can always second- guess that, but I felt we could get a punt, get a stop and get the ball back for a touchdown and a chance to win the game.”

Tennessee (5-8) scored its first touchdown in three games and got a good performance from Kerry Collins, who passed for 244 yards and three touchdowns in his second straight start.

Chris Johnson rushed for 111 yards and a score and Bo Scaife caught two touchdown passes, but the Titans dropped their sixth straight game and will remain at least two back of the division-leading Jaguars.

There was a time this season when the Colts and Titans were the two clear-cut contenders for the division title. But both sides entered Thursday’s game just trying to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

Indianapolis tried to put the game away early, scoring two of its three first- half touchdowns on Titans penalties and the third when Tennessee botched a punt.

Titans safety Michael Griffin was flagged for pass interference for pulling Garcon down in the end zone, setting up James’ one-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 Colts lead in the last minutes of the first quarter.

Safety Chris Hope was called for defensive holding on a play from the 5-yard line and Manning hit Garcon two plays later in the end zone to make it 14-0 with 10:17 left in the half.

Things got even easier for the Colts when Tennessee’s Ken Amato snapped the ball over punter Brett Kern’s head — Kern got a right hand on it — but the Colts’ Taj Smith recovered the fumble. Manning connected on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Garcon two plays later.

The Titans offense responded with a touchdown drive, its first in 15 quarters, and pulled within 21-7 when Johnson scored on a one-yard pitch play around the left side with 49 seconds left in the half.

Tennessee opened the third quarter with a touchdown drive when Collins and Craig Stevens connected for a seven-yard pass.

The Colts responded with a 21-yard field goal from Vinatieri for a 24-14 lead — but only after White got in the way of Wayne in the back of the end zone on a Manning pass that seemed destined for another touchdown.

Vinatieri kicked a 28-yarder to cap a 16-play Indianapolis drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, but a 37-yard Johnson run help set up Collins’ four-yard TD pass to Scaife to make it 27-21.

Vinatieri’s 47-yarder gave the Colts a 30-21 advantage inside three minutes.

Collins was able to march his offense all the way downfield, but the Titans used every remaining second to score on Scaife’s two-yard catch, leaving themselves two points short.

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