Still exulting in triumph from the the Oakland Raiders reaching their first win in the Tom Cable era, I now enthusiastically dive into today’s football games. Forget the hyperbole. Here is the Week 8 NFL Recap.
The Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays, or Devil Rays, or whatever they are, played the Sunday night game. I hate baseball almost as much as golf and soccer, so I refuse to cover this irrelevance. There was no Sunday night NFL game because of this uselessness, so perhaps King of the Hill and American Dad will be watched. Maybe Desperate Housewives or the news will be watched. Either way, this blog is about football on Sundays.
Oakland Raiders @ Baltimore Ravens–For more on the game of the day, go to www.justblogbaby.com
Buddy Ryan was rooting for a 0-0 tie since both his sons are the defensive coordinators of these teams. Rob Ryan runs the defense for the Raiders, and Rex Ryan does it for the Ravens. Early on it looked like buddy would get his wish as neither offense could move the ball. The difference in the game was field position, which was miserable for the Raiders. When they would punt, the Ravens would have good field position, which they would waste.
The difference in the first quarter was a sack on JaMarcus Russell for a safety and a 2-0 Ravens lead. With Darren McFadden out with an injured toe, the Raiders running game ran into a buzzsaw of Ray Lewis and company. The Raiders had -2 yards in the opening quarter.
Late in the quarter, a 39 yard punt return had Baltimore at the Oakland 18. Early in the 2nd quarter, Willis McGahee banged in from one yard out to put the Ravens up 9-0.
With the Oakland running game going nowhere, Cable decided to open it up. After a couple of completions, Russell went for the long ball. He was intercepted, but at least the Ravens began at their own 3 yard line. After converting 3rd and 9 with a run up the middle, the Raiders had an even bigger breakdown on defense. On 3rd and 5, Flacco went deep and found a wide open Williams for a 70 yard touchdown and a 16-0 Ravens lead midway through the 2nd quarter.
The ensuing kickoff would have gone out of bounds, but Johnny lee Higgins fielded it and stepped out of bounds, forcing the Raiders to start at their own 2 yard line. The field position nightmare continued. The Ravens added a field goal to take a 19-0 lead at the break.
The Raiders had a ray of hope when Russell found Schillins for a 60 yard bomb to set up 1st and goal. Yet these are the Raiders, and a 21 yard field goal cut the gap to 19-3. Flacco then handed off to Troy Smith, the backup quarterback. Smith completed a bomb of his own, and Flacco was the wide receiver who caught it. The 43 yard gadget play and the ensuing field goal had the Ravens back up comfortably 22-3.
Russell completed passes of 31 and 25 yards to Zach Miller, and Justin Griffith barely broke the plane of the goal on a 2 yard run to put the Raiders within 22-10 after 3 quarters. Willis McGahee fumbled, an the Raiders began their next drive at the Baltimore 43. A 13 yard run by Russell was followed by a penalty or delay of game, and a sack that led to no points. The Raiders would see the ball again, but at that point the Baltimore pass defense was in jailbreak mode. A 12 yard touchdown run by Joe Flacco with 3 1/2 minutes left ended any hopes for the Raiders, who fell to 2-5. 29-10 Ravens
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers–A reverse play went for a long gain to set up a Cardinals field goal. In the 2nd quarter, Jake Delhomme had the ball knocked out of his hand, and the fumble was recovered by Arizona at the Carolina 5 yard line. Kurt Warner threw a touchdown on the next play to put the Cardinals up 10-0. The Panthers responded to the 1 play, 5 second drive with a 14 play drive of their own. Yet Jake Delhomme’s 3rd down pass from the 5 yard line was dropped in the end zone by a wide open receiver. A golden opportunity was missed, as the Saints trailed 10-3 at the half instead of 10-7.
The Cardinals took the second half kickoff, and Warner found Fitzerald for a 27 yard gain. Tim Hightower ended the drive with a 2 yard touchdown run. The Cardinals led 17-3, and seemed to be on their way to a win. Then the game totally changed. Delhomme finally got going, and a 31 yard pass to King set up a 15 yard touchdown run by Williams to put the Panthers within 17-10. Edgerrin James then fumbled, and Carolina had the ball at the Arizona 18. Both teams had fumbled deep in their own territory, and both teams capitalized in one play. Delhomme hit Steve Smith for the touchdown that tied the game 17-17.
Warner then led a 12 play drive from the Arizona 22. He found Steve Breaston, Anquon Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald on the drive. A 22 yarder to Fitzgerald set up the 2 yard touchdown to Boldin as the Cardinals regained the lead. The extra point was no good. The Cardinals led 23-17, but that missed conversion would haunt them. Delhomme needed less than one minute to throw a 65 yard bomb to Steve Smith for the touchdown. Replays clearly showed Smith stepping out of bounds. The call was challenged, yet the touchdown was upheld. It was a totally blown call, and with the extra point, the Panthers led 24-23. The 21 point 3rd quarter was followed by a defensive 4th quarter.
Warner rapidly led the Cardinals from their own 22 to the Carolina 15. However, Warner was then intercepted by J J Arrington, who returned the ball to midfield with 12 minutes remaining. That led to a 50 yard field goal by John Kasay to put the Panthers up 27-23 with 9 minutes remaining. The Cardinals punted on their next drive from their own 45 with 6 minutes left, and never got the ball back. The Arizona defense could not make a stop. On 3rd and 13 from midfield with 1:51 left, Williams ran straight up the middle to pick up the first down and end things. 27-23 Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys–This defensive struggle began with a pair of field goals by the Buccaneers to go up 6-0. After Dallas made a field goal, the Buccaneers had a missed field goal that gave the Cowboys possession on their own 40. A personal foul on Ronde Barber moved them closer. Brad Johnson, filling in for Tony Romo, found Roy Williams for a 2 yard touchdown pass and a 10-6 Dallas lead at the intermission. The second half was even more defense. An exchange of field goals had the Cowboys up by 4 points with 4:15 remaining. Jeff Gracia started at his own 26 and methodically moved the Buccaneers down the field. With 19 seconds remaining, on 4th and 3 from the Dallas 18, Garcia’s pass to Jeremy Stevens fell incomplete. It wasn’t pretty, but Dallas got the win. 13-9 Cowboys
Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions–Jason Campbell led the Redskins on their opening 7 minute drive down the field, but bogged down at the Detroit 2 yard line. The field goal had the Redskins up 3-0. Later in the quarter, Campbell fumbled at midfield. Orlovsky, filling in for Jon Kitna, found Calvin Johnson for 31 yards. Johnson then ran it in from 11 yards out to put the Lions up 7-3. An exchange of field goals had Detroit up 10-6 at intermission.
After a 3rd field goal had Washington within 10-9, they got the ball back at their own 5. A pass from Campbell to Cooley went for 17 yards, and a defensive penalty had the Redskins at midfield. Campbell went deep to Santana Moss for the second half of the field, putting the Redskins up 16-10. Early in the 4th quarter, the Lions punted, and Moss killed them with an 80 yard return for the touchdown that had the Redskins up 22-10.
The Lions fought back, and a 17 yard touchdown pass form Orlovsky to Johnson had Detroit within 22-17 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining. The Redskins wound down the clock, and added a field goal for an 8 point lead. The Lions got the ball back with 1:51 remaining at their own 23. With 48 seconds remaining, facing 4th and 3 at their own 45, Orlovsky completed a 2 yard pass. Either the West COast Offense, the Lions, or both, should be abolished. Throwing past the marker helps. The Lions remained winless. 25-17 Redskins
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins–A pair of much improved teams took the field, and Chad Pennington took the Dolphins right down the field on the opening drive. A 2 yard touchdown pass to Anthon Fasano had the Dolphins up 7-0. The Bills could not reach the end zone, but 3 Ryan Lindell field goals, including one on the last play of the half, had the Bills up 9-7.
The first half was early scoring by the Dolphins and then all Bills. The second half was the exact reverse. The Bills took the opening kickoff, and Trent Edwards marched them down the field. A Marshawn Lynch 2 yard touchdown run had Buffalo up 16-7. The rest was all Miami.
A field goal had the Dolphins within 16-10, and after a punt, Pennington led a 69 yard drive. Ricky Williams ran 3 yards for the touchdown that put the Dolphins up 17-16. Buffalo was plagued by turnovers, and an Edwards interception set up a field goal to put Miami up 20-16 early in the 4th quarter. Buffalo began a drive after a punt at their own 3, where Edwards was sacked for a safety. Miami led 22-16 with 8 minutes remaining. Miami took the free kick, which led to a field goal with 4 minutes remaining. The kick gave Miami a 9 point lead, putting the game out of reach. Buffalo did reach the Miami 31, but fumbled the ball away. They got the ball back with seconds remaining, and fumbled again. 4 turnovers do not defeat a disciplined team, and Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano have brought discipline and winning back to Miami. 25-16 Dolphins.
St. Louis Rams @ New England Patriots–This could have been a Superbowl rematch that ended one potential dynasty and launched another one, but Kurt Warner is elsewhere, Tom Brady is out for the year, Adam Vinatieri is elsewhere, and Marshall Faulk is retired. There was a Faulk running the ball, although it was Kevin Faulk for New England. Nevetheless, this was a good game.
Just like in the Superbowl, the Rams went up 3-0, and the Patriots took the lead 7-3. For the Rams, their drive stalled at the 2 yard line, while for the Patriots, the final 2 yards came on the ground by Ellis. In the 2nd quarter, Marc Bulger found Avery for a 69 yard touchdown to put the Rams back on top 10-7. A 12 play drive led to a 30 yard field goal that tied the game at 10-10. Late in the half, the Rams had to punt form deep in their own territory. The Patriots only had 19 seconds, but began at the Rams 46. A swing pass from Matt Cassell to Randy Moss went for 30 yards, setting up the go ahead field goal at halftime.
The second half featured more field goals. The Superbowl was tied 17-17 late. This game was tied 16-16 with 7 minutes remaining. More terrible field position for the Rams led to a punt that had the Patriots starting at their own 47. With the short field, Cassell found Faulk for a 15 yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots up by 7 with 3:13 left. The Rams again started with dreadful field position, this time at their own 10. Bulger did pass them down to the New England 38, but he was intercepted with just over one minute left at the 16 yard line by Deltha Oneal. 23-16 Patriots
San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints–Live from Wembley Stadium, the second annual game in England took place. After a rendition of “God Save the Queen,” to the tune of “My Country tis of thee,” the crowd was treated early on to an exchange of field goals. Even at 3-3 the game was more interesting than any game of soccer ever played. Yet after a quiet first quarter, both offenses exploded.
The second quarter saw the offenses unload. A 12 yard pass to Devery Henderson put the Saints up 9-3, when the extra point clanked off of the upright. On the ensuing kickoff, Darren Sproles had the ball ripped out of his hands, allowing the Saints to start with excellent field position. From the 25, the Saints went right to work, and several plays later Deuce McAllister had a one yard touchdown run to put the Saints up 16-3.
With Drew Brees already firing, his counterpart and former teammate Philip Rivers got going. Rivers found Ladanian Tomlinson for a 12 yard touchdown, cutting the gap to 16-10. Brees came right back with a 30 yard touchdown pass to Moore to put the Saints up 23-10. The aerial show continued as Rivers found Antonio Gates for 30 yards, setting up a 12 yard Rivers to Gates touchdown. The Chargers trailed 23-17 at the half.
The second half featured more fireworks as the offenses moved at will. From his own 13, Brees found Marquis Colston for a 49 yard gain. A horse collar penalty pushed the ball to the San Diego 22. Brees kept firing, and found Campbell for a 1 yard touchdown pass to put the Saints up 30-17. Rivers then led a 12 play, 7 minute drive, but it bogged down at the New Orleans 6 yard line. A field goal had the Chargers within 30-20.
Brees remained ridiculous in the pocket, firing passes at will. On 3rd and 5 from the San Diego 20, a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone set up a 1 yard touchdown run by Karney seconds into the 4th quarter. The Saints led 37-20, but this game was far from over. Rivers led another 12 play drive, but again the Saints could not reach the end zone. The drive stalled at the 8 yard line, and the field goal with 9 1/2 minutes left had the Chargers within 37-23.
A successful onsides kick had the Chargers beginning at their own 43. A 17 yard toss to Vincent Jackson and a 9 yarder to Chris Chambers set up a 14 yard touchdown pass to Jackson. 7 1/2 minutes remained, and the Chargers were within 37-30. The Chargers got the ball back with 4 minutes left, and after a holding penalty, were at their own 12. Rivers moved them all the way to the New Orleans 32, where his pas was tipped by 2 Saints before being intercepted by Jonathan Vilma with just over one minute left. Vilma smartly went down rather than fumble the ball back, as many defenders do.
Yet the game still was not over. The Saints needed to punt with 14 seconds remaining. Rather than punt facing a heavy rush, Drew Brees came in for the snap. He ran backwards, and took the intentional safety with 8 seconds left. The free kick from the 20 provided drama as Darren Sproles returned it just past midfield. The Saints thought the game was over, but the referees ruled that there was one second left. Rivers threw the hail mary, and with about 12 players in the end zone jumping for it, it landed incomplete.
The people of England got their money’s worth, and Norvelous Norv Turner and the Chargers fell to 3-5. Drew Brees celebrated the win against his former team. I am not sure if he was knighted by the Queen after the game, but it would have been merited. 37-32 Saints
Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets–Brett Favre vs Tyler Thigpen. It did not seem fair. That’s why, as Chris Berman says, that they play the games. Favre went right to work, taking the Jets 73 yards in 6 minutes. An 18 yard touchdown pass from Favre to Leon Washington had the Jets up 7-0. Things settled down after that, and an interception of Favre had Kansas City at the New York 38 as the opening quarter ended. Thigpen then hit Tony Gonzalez for the 19 yard touchdown to tie the game. Gonzalez was on the trading block, but Chiefs fans were glad he stayed.
With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Jets were on their own 10. A pass from Favre to Cotchery went for 24 yards. Leon Washington then ran 60 yards for a score to put the Jets up 14-7. Thigpen came right back, and a perfectly executed 2 minute drill led to Thigpen throwing an 11 yard touchdown to Bradley to send the teams to the locker room tied 14-14.
The Chiefs took the lead after a 6 minute drive set up a 30 yard field goal, but Favre matched Thigpen with a 13 play, 6 minute drive that ended with a 1 yard Thomas Jones run, as the Jets led 21-17 after 3 quarters. In the 4th quarter Favre led a long drive that appeared on the verge of salting the game away. On 3rd and 2, with 8 minutes remaining, disaster struck. Favre was intercepted by Flowers, who raced 92 yards the other way. Instead of being up by 11, the Jets trailed 24-21.
With 3 minutes remaining, Washington took a punt return 47 yards, and the Jets began at the Kansas City 46. With just over one minute remaining, Favre found Laverneus Coles for a spectacular 15 yard one handed touchdown catch. The Jets regained the lead. A 35 yard kickoff return had the Chiefs in business. A 3rd and 16 completion by Thigpen set up 4th and 1 at the New York 31 with 21 seconds remaining. Thigpen’s 4th down pass was incomplete, and the Jets had survived. Favre did throw 3 interceptions, but the grizzled veteran is still a warrior that can win when it counts. 28-24 Jets
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles–The Falcons, with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback in Matt Ryan, entered the game a surprising 4-1. Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb are the all time leaders for wins between head coaches and quarterbacks starting at the same time. Despite offseason turmoil, they have held the team together at 3-3 in a tough division. The first quarter was scoreless.
4 minutes into the 2nd quarter, Ryan found White for a 55 yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons up 7-0. An exchange of punts gave the field position advantage to the Eagles, who began at their own 40. McNabb found Darrell Jackson for 22 yards, and finished the drive by running it in 3 yards himself to tie the game with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half.
The Eagles got the ball back at their own 12 with 45 seconds left in the half, and sought to just play it safe. Yet when Bryan Westbrook ran 20 yards on 1st down, Reid let McNabb open it up. Several passes, including a 20 yarder to Jackson, set up a 36 yard field goal just before the half to put the Eagles up 10-7.
The Eagles took the second half kickoff and went straight down the field. Bryan Westbrook ran the final 16 yards to put the Eagles up 17-7. After an Atlanta punt, the Eagles moved from their own 45 to the Atlanta one yard line. Yet a pair of plays were stymied, and on 4th and goal from the 1, ultra conservative Reid opted for the field goal to put the Eagles up 20-7. Only 8 minutes remained.
Ryan led the Falcons back with a 14 play drive, finishing it off with an 8 yard touchdown pass to White with 4 minutes remaining. The Falcons were within 6 points again. The Atlanta defense then held, but their final chance to win was snuffed out when the punt was fumbled and recovered by the Eagles. Replays clearly showed that the Atlanta punt returner never actually touched the ball at all. However, the Falcons were out of timeouts, and therefore unable to challenge the horrendous call. A 39 yard touchdown by Westbrook was the icing on the cake. 27-14 Eagles
Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars–This featured a pair of teams with winning records a year ago that play in tough divisions, but are still in the hunt this year. Derek Anderson led the Browns 80 yards on their first drive, with a 3 yard touchdown pass to Dante Stallworth putting the Browns up 7-0. David Garrard responded with a 13 play, 6 1/2 minute drive that tied the game 7-7 when Garrard hit Williams from 5 yards out. Anderson then quickly hit Heiden for 51 yards to set up a 2 yard touchdown run by Jamal Lewis. The Browns added a field goal to go up 17-7 at halftime.
The Jaguars took the second half kickoff and marched 72 yards. Garrard threw the 8 yard toss to Jones for the touchdown that made it a 17-14 game. Josh Scobee nailed a 53 yard field goal to tied the game 17-17 with 9 minutes remaining. Cleveland took over at their own 21, and after several handoffs to Jamal Lewis, were at their own 46. Anderson then went for all the marbles, and the 53 yard completion to Steptoe was ruled out at the one yard line. Although it was worth reviewing to see if the ball broke the plane of the goal, no review occurred. this was costly, because 3 plays from the 1 went straight into a stout Jacksonville defense. With 4 1/2 minutes remaining, facing 4th and goal at the 2, Romeo Crennel decided on the chip shot field goal. Phil Dawson put the Browns up 20-17.
The Jaguars then fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The Browns could not move the ball, but another field goal put them up by 6. Incomplete passes on 2nd and 3rd down meant that only 30 seconds elapsed on the drive.
The Jaguars punted after not moving the ball, but the Browns could not run out the clock. The Jaguars took over on their own 30 with 1:51 remaining. On 4th and 3 from their own 39, Garrard completed a 5 yard pass. However, after the play a personal foul on the offense pushed the Jagurs back 15 yards. They still retained possession, but what was bizarre was that the penalty actually helped them. The clock stopped. The Browns protested that since the penalty was on offense, the Jagaurs should not benefit from the penalty. yet 27 seconds remained, and Garrard hit Jones for a 35 yard gain to the Cleveland 26 with 16 seconds remaining.
Garrard went for the end zone, and twice his passes were tipped, bobbled, and broken up by superb defense. Garrard’s last pass was untouched and incomplete in the end zone. It was a nailbiter, but Cleveland held and won a tough game on the road. 23-17 Browns
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans–For some reason this game was played. Carson Palmer has now been declared out for the season, and it appears that the entire team has quit on Marvin Lewis. Chad Johnson is still on the field, wishing he was not. A 73 yard touchdown on a punt return by Jones only 2 minutes into the game put the Texans up 7-0. That might have been enough to put the game out of reach for the Bungles. For those who were confused, the Bengals were not the expansion team.
In the 2nd quarter, the Texans began on their own 9. Matt Schaub led a 15 play drive that ate up 9 1/2 minutes of clock. A 6 yard touchdown pass to Anderson had the Texans up 14-3. In the 3rd quarter, Schaub led an 84 yard drive that took another 6 minutes off of the clock. Schaub found Walter for 7 yards to put the Texans up 21-6. Schaub threw a 39 yard touchdown pass to Walter to put the Texans up 28-6. The Bengals remain winless, despite a pair of incredibly exciting field goals inbetween surrendering multiple touchdowns. 35-6 Texans
New York Giants @ Pittsburgh Steelers–These teams coached by Tom Coughlin and Mike Tomlin are about discipline and attitude. The two teams known for hard nosed running and defense played a game featuring both. The game started with offense, as Mewelde Moore ran for a 32 yard touchdown to put the Steelers up 7-0. The game then quickly turned into a defensive bonelock. The Giants kicked a field goal, and in the second quarter reached the Pittsburgh one yard line. Brandon Jacobs scored on 3rd down, but the touchdown was challenged. On further review the touchdown was reversed. On 4th and goal from the 1, Jacobs was stoned by a brick Pittsburgh wall.
Pittsburgh failed to move after the goal line stand, and a punt was returned by Dominic Hixon 28 yards to the Pittsburgh 19. Yet New York could not move either, and a field goal made it a 7-6 game. After a Pittsburgh punt, the Giants again drive deep, but on 4th and 2 form the Pittsburgh 7, settled for a 3rd field goal to take a 9-7 lead into the locker room.
After an exchange of punts in the 3rd quarter, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning had been struggling. Big Ben stepped back, and needed one play to throw a 65 yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington to put the Steelers back on top 14-9.
Early in the 4th quarter Roethlisberger threw his 3rd interception of the game. The Giants had good field position, and took a timeout on 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 29. Manning then got confused, and tried to call another timeout. This led to a delay of game penalty that made it 4th and 6. So Manning redeemed himself by throwing a 31 yard completion to Amani Toomer, setting up 1st and goal at the 4. However, this was a game of defense, and the Giants had to settle for a 4th field by John Carney to pull within 14-12 with just 8:18 remaining.
The game then turned on one special teams play. Pittsburgh set up to punt, and the backup long snapper…yes, teams actually sometimes need backup long snappers…snapped it over the punter’s head out of the back of the end zone for a safety. This might have been one of the strangest ways to reach a 14-14 tie in some time. The Giants took the free kick and began at their own 47 with 7 minutes left. From midfield, Manning hit Steve Smith to cut the distance in half. With 3 minutes left, Manning hit Kevin Boss for the 2 yard touchdown that put the Giants up by 7.
The New York defense that won them a championship last year is still suffocating, and it beat up Big Ben on pair of Pittsburgh drives at the end. Roethlisberger’s desperation hail mary from his own end zone on 4th down resulted in his 4th interception. The Giants had gutted out a tough road win. 21-14 Giants
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers–This game also for some reason failed to be canceled. The Walrus, aka Mike Holmgren, is retiring at the end of the year. Without injured Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahags have mailed it in. The 49ers actually beat the Seahawks earlier this year, eliminating me from my suicide league. However, the 49ers won very little else, and coach Dick Nolan, despite looking good on the sidelines in a suit, was fired. Mike Singletary, the player with perhaps the most famous wide eyes in football history, took over the job. He had a rough first game.
A pair of field goals had the Seahawks up 6-0. In the 2nd quarter, a 14 play drive that took 7 1/2 minutes ended in a one yard run up the middle by T J Duckett to extend the lead to 13-0. The 49ers did kick a field goal, and on their next drive reached the Seattle 29. J T O’Sullivan then threw a touchdown pass to Wilson, who plays for Seattle. The 75 yard interception return put the Seahawks up 20-3. Under protest, the players took the field for the second half. A 43 yard touchdown pass from Seneca Wallace to Weaver had the Seahawks up 27-6 in a route. Singletary benched O’Sullivan and Vernon Davis to let the team know that his winning attitude as a player involved putting fear into those that need it. 34-13 Seahawks
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans was the Monday night game. This was about Peyton Manning and the high powered Colts offense that has struggled this year vs the Tennessee defense that is as good as during their heyday. They are still led by Jeff Fisher. The first half was a Tennessee tempo, meaning a slugfest. Kerry Collins led the Titans to a field goal on their opening drive. After an exchange of punts, the Titans began at the Tennessee 36. With the short field, Peyton Manning found Dallas Clark for a 10 yard touchdown pass. The Colts took a 7-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Manning took the second half kickoff and led the Colts straight down the field. Another touchdown pass to Clark, this time from 19 yards out, had Indianapolis up 14-6. Collins then led a 14 play, 80 yard drive that ate up 7:45. Lendale White bruised through from inches out, and the 2 point conversion from Collins to Hall tied the game 14-14. Seconds into the 4th quarter, Rob Bironas atoned for a missed 43 yard field goal in the first half by drilling a 48 yarder. His previous miss was his first miss of the year, and the successful kick had the Titans up 17-14.
The key to the second half was the Tennessee defense. The go ahead field goal was set up when the Colts gambled on 4th and 1 at midfield, only to see Dominic Rhodes get stoned up the middle. On their next series, the Colts passed up a 51 yard field goal attempt due to winds to go for it on 4th and 3 at the Tennessee 34. Neither of these were necessarily bad decisions, but the Titans held both times.
What really shocked many was that rather than try to grind it out on the ground with Lendale White, Offensive Coordinator opened it up and had Kerry Collins unleash a flurry of passes. Collins is no “manager.” He is an experienced superstar that knows how to win games, not just avoid losing them. Normally the Titans would try to run down the clock in this situation. Instead Collins passed them straight down the field when it counted most. The 13 play, 7 minute drive even had them throwing from the 1 yard line, but it was White that banged in the final yard to put the Titans up 24-14 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
Manning was intercepted on the next series, setting up a 16 yard run by Johnson to give the appearance of a blowout in what was actually a tough game. The Colts added a garbage touchdown at the end of the game. The Colts are 3-4, and the Titans are 7-0. They have piled up wins against bad teams, but even with a losing record, the Colts are a dangerous team. Tennessee is for real. 31-21 Titans