Indianapolis Colts stay unbeaten with 27-17 win against the Tennessee Titans

Dwight Freeney, bottom, sacks the Titans' Vince Young in the first quarter with a little help from Clint Session and Eric Foster.
Dwight Freeney, bottom, sacks the Titans' Vince Young in the first quarter with a little help from Clint Session and Eric Foster. (Michael Conroy/associated Press)
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By Mark Maske
Monday, December 7, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts kept things relatively routine this time. They started fast, for a change, and held on through a few mildly anxious second-half moments to beat the Tennessee Titans, 27-17, Sunday, keeping their record perfect and increasing their regular season winning streak, dating from last year, to an NFL-record-tying 21 games.

"We did some of the things that we really thought we set out to do," said Jim Caldwell, the Colts' still-unbeaten rookie head coach. "We started out a little faster than we had in the recent weeks. . . . There were enough good things to make us feel pretty good about ourselves, and certainly enough things to humble us as well."

The Colts joined the New Orleans Saints as the league's only 12-0 teams, and they didn't need the sort of late-game theatrics the Saints required at FedEx Field to beat the Washington Redskins. It was a role reversal for the Colts, who had found themselves in comeback mode often of late. Their previous five victories had included fourth-quarter rallies. Not this time. The Colts raced to a 21-3 lead in the first half, and did what was necessary from there.

"That is something that we talked about," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said after throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown. "We did talk about, 'Hey, these comebacks are nice,' but I have always thought comeback wins are good, but they mean you screwed up in the first three quarters to put yourself in that position."

The Colts matched the New England Patriots' league-record regular season winning streak, set between the 2006 and 2008 seasons. The Colts also secured the franchise's seventh straight 12-victory season.

"It is not something that you take for granted," Manning said. "You think about the guys that have been here four, five years now. . . . It is not normal to win 10, 11 [or] 12 games every year, [but] these guys that have been here for five years would look at me and say it is normal for us."

Running back Joseph Addai ran for a pair of first-half touchdowns and Manning threw for another. It was a 24-10 game at halftime after the Colts got a field goal as time expired in the half. In the second half, the Indianapolis defense stopped the Titans on two key fourth-down tries -- first from the Colts 2-yard line late in the third quarter, then from the Colts' 14-yard line in the fourth quarter.

"We had good opportunities to nab this game and we did not," Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said. "We had chances to make the plays and keep the game close. Our approach was to keep it close and we did, but let it get away at the end."

The Titans had their five-game winning streak ended and fell to 5-7. They had pieced their season back together after a starting-quarterback switch from Kerry Collins to Vince Young, but couldn't do what was needed Sunday.

Young threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns, and tailback Chris Johnson ran for 113 yards. But the Titans had two first-half turnovers, an interception thrown by Young and a fumble lost by fullback Ahmard Hall, and Young threw incompletions on the two crucial fourth-down plays.

"They were big stops," Colts linebacker Clint Session said.

Still, the Titans vowed that the competitive portion of their season did not end Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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