Final Score: Indianapolis 23, Tennessee 20
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Adam Vinatieri kicked a 43-yard field goal
as time expired and the Indianapolis Colts secured a No. 3 seed in the
playoffs with a 23-20 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The Colts (10-6) captured their seventh AFC South title in eight years even
before Peyton Manning turned a fumbled Titans snap into the brief game-winning
Jacksonville took care of that for Indy by losing 34-17 to Houston.
The Colts will host the New York Jets next Saturday night in their ninth
straight playoff appearance, matching the NFL record set by Dallas from
Indy will be looking to defend its AFC championship against a stacked field of
teams that also includes New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Baltimore.
"I'm just happy we don't have to play in the cold (next week)," Colts running
back Joseph Addai said. "Regardless, the record is 0-0. We've got a fresh
Meanwhile, the Titans (6-10) ended what might be Jeff Fisher's last season as
head coach with their eighth loss in nine games despite rallying to tie Indy
Kerry Collins passed for 300 yards in his fifth straight start, throwing
touchdown passes to Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson in the third quarter that
had the Titans sniffing an upset.
But he fumbled on a snap inside the two-minute warning, giving the ball back
to the Colts.
Manning completed a 20-yard pass to Blair White and an 11-yarder to Jacob
Tamme before Vinatieri added another clutch kick to his NFL resume by booting
"We're fortunate to get that turnover," Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said.
"We can't take credit for God's handiwork, that's for sure."
Manning finished 27-of-41 for 264 yards and threw touchdown passes to Reggie
Wayne and Pierre Garcon, leading Indy to its fourth straight win to end the
He set a new NFL record for completions in a season with 450, breaking Saints
quarterback Drew Brees' mark of 448 set earlier Sunday.
"A good way to finish it off," Manning said of the season-ending win.
And what a month it's been for his Colts.
They beat Tennessee to snap a three-game losing streak, but were still in
danger of being eliminated from the race for the division title. They kept
themselves alive by defeating Jacksonville two weeks ago, then traveled to
beat pesky Oakland.
Sunday marked their eighth straight home win against division opponents. But
Tennessee sure put up a fight in a back-and-forth game.
The Colts carried a 13-6 lead into the second half, but Tennessee tied the
game on Britt's 21-yard touchdown catch in the right side of the end zone in
the opening minutes of the third quarter.
Back-to-back Titans penalties carried the Colts across midfield and Manning
hit Garcon with a perfect 30-yard touchdown pass, getting the throw off just
before he was drilled by defensive end Jason Babin to give Indy a 20-13 lead.
But Tennessee came right back to tie the game for a fourth time when Johnson
caught a pass in the middle of the field, broke a tackle and scored from 15
yards for his first receiving touchdown of the season.
Johnson finished with just 39 yards rushing on 20 carries, but also had six
receptions for 51 yards. Britt caught five passes for 85 yards and Jared Cook
had seven receptions for 58.
On the series prior to Collins' fumbled snap, the Colts gave the ball away on
a Dominic Rhodes fumble. It came around the same time that Houston wrapped up
its win over Jacksonville, giving Indy the division, though it was unclear how
much the Colts players knew at the time.
"The way coach put it during the whole week was just to take care of our
business and we'll be all right," said Addai. "I don't really think we knew
what was going on or what was happening."
The teams traded field goals in the first half, making two apiece, but the
Colts carried a 13-6 lead into the break after Manning found Wayne with a
short pass in the flat and Wayne followed blockers into the end zone for a
The Titans attempted a 61-yard field goal at the end of the half, but Rob
Bironas didn't get the ball to the goal posts.
Indy's Antoine Bethea caught the ball and returned it 101 yards to the
Tennessee seven, where he was finally tackled by tight end Craig Stevens, but
the play was negated by an illegal block near midfield.
The Titans posted their first losing record in five years -- just two seasons
removed from winning the AFC South at 13-3. Fisher may be the longest-tenured
coach in the NFL, but his future with Tennessee is in question at the end of a
year marked by incidents like Vince Young's blowup.
Fisher has coached the Titans for 17 seasons and posted a combined 147-126
record in the regular season and playoffs.
"I hope that I am (back)," Fisher said afterward.
Johnson and several other players stressed that they couldn't worry about
potential changes to the coaching staff, only their preparations for next
"Fish is a good coach," Johnson said. "My three years playing with him, I've
enjoyed him as a coach. He's been coaching for  years so obviously he's
been doing something right."
Wayne led all receivers with nine catches for 68 yards...Rhodes and Addai
carried 11 times apiece for Indy and combined for 92 yards...The Colts
outgained Tennessee by a 358-341 margin...New England and Pittsburgh are the
top two seeds in the AFC. The Colts earned the No. 3 spot in a tiebreaker over
10-6 Kansas City...Manning surpassed former offensive lineman Gene Upshaw and
set an NFL record with his 208th consecutive start to begin his career...The
Colts lost to New Orleans in last year's Super Bowl.
01/02 22:29:58 ET
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