NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Continuity at quarterback for two straight weeks helped the Titans' offense improve, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Friday, but it wasn't enough for Tennessee to nab a comeback win against Indianapolis Thursday night.
Kerry Collins went 28-for-39 for 244 passing yards and three touchdowns in his second straight start since returning to the lineup from a calf injury he suffered Nov. 14 at Miami. It was the first time the Titans had started the same player at the critical position since Oct. 10 and Oct. 18.
The Titans fell 30-28 to the Colts as time expired. Tennessee scored more points than it had in the previous three games combined and gained a season-high 22 first downs but dropped its sixth straight. The loss continued the Titans' fall from their 5-2 start and first in the AFC South to 5-8 and last in the division.
Fisher was asked Friday to compare last season's 0-6 start to this season's skid.
"Obviously the difficulty we had last year was, I think, a little bit different than what we're going through now," Fisher said. "We had stability at the quarterback position (last season). We had injuries at other positions. Again, as I've mentioned part of it has been that Kerry (Collins) was able to show yesterday the benefits of working with the offense, healthy, two consecutive weeks. It's hard to draw a parallel. Bottom line is we're getting beat and we're not winning games, and it's not acceptable."
Tennessee fell behind the Colts 21-0 after being called for two penalties on third downs that gave Indianapolis fresh sets of downs and the ball inside the 5-yard-line on separate possessions, a fumble inside Colts territory and a punt snap that sailed over Brett Kern's head and Indianapolis grabbed at the Tennessee 19.
Collins and the Titans stormed back. Running back Chris Johnson capped a quick touchdown drive before halftime with a 1-yard run to break a franchise-record streak of 14 quarters played by the Titans without an offensive touchdown. Johnson finished with 111 yards on 22 carries and caught a team-high eight passes (seven catches in the second half) for 68 yards.
"I'm proud of our guys the way we came back," Collins said Thursday night. "Obviously, we've been struggling a lot. I thought that everyone was focused this week coming into it. We just knew we had to make the plays that were there. Unfortunately, we did some things to ourselves in the first half that kind of stopped us, but we were moving the ball. We came out in the second half, first drive, go down and score. Really, I thought the guys fought their butts off. It's unfortunate the way it ended up."
Tennessee gained 365 yards (third-highest total this season), its conversion of 5 of 11 third-down plays (45 percent) was its fourth-best of the season, and its 27:29 of possession was the fourth most this season. Tennessee had won the three previous games in which its third-down conversion percentages and time of possession were greater.
Wide receiver Kenny Britt returned to action for the first time since injuring his hamstring on Oct. 31 at San Diego in a 33-25 loss that started the skid. Britt caught four passes for 39 yards but fumbled as he was trying to turn a loss of yardage on a completion into a gain.
Tight end Bo Scaife caught four passes, including two short touchdowns, and tight end Craig Stevens caught a 7-yard touchdown from Collins in the second half.
"I'm proud of my teammates but this league is all about winning," Scaife said Thursday. "I knew I was going to bounce back (from a drop near the goal line against Jacksonville) this week. I owed that to my teammates. … I could have had no catches and no touchdowns, and if we had won I would be the happiest guy in the world."
The best the Titans can finish this season is 8-8 for the second straight year by winning their final three games against Houston on Dec. 19, at Kansas City on Dec. 26 and at Indianapolis on Jan. 2, 2011.
Linebacker and defensive captain Stephen Tulloch said the Titans will keep fighting.
"We've got a good team coming in next week, and we've got to find a way to win," Tulloch said. "We've got to compete. We're pro athletes, and nobody's going to throw it in."