INDIANAPOLIS – The Titans beat the Colts 45-26 on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the game as the team begins to turn its attention to next Sunday's game vs the Cleveland Browns.
A day after his alma mater hammered Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Titans running Derrick Henry brought his A-game – again – while bruising the Colts. The University of Alabama product was a force from the get-go, busting off one big run after the next early in the contest. By halftime, Henry already had 140 yards and three touchdowns, which was a big part of his 178-yard total. Henry praised his offensive line, which opened some big holes. "They did a great job today, opening up holes, driving the guy back in front of them, playing well collectively," Henry said. "I just had to go out there and do my job. (They make) my job definitely a lot easier. I appreciate those guys." Henry, who currently leads the NFL with 1,257 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, became the third player in franchise history to rush for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in at least two consecutive seasons, joining Earl Campbell (1978–1981) and Chris Johnson (2009–2010).
Quessenberry's First Start
Titans tackle David Quessenberry is a cancer survivor, and a player coach Mike Vrabel has raved about ever since he took over as head coach. Vrabel, remember, spent time with Quessenberrry during their days with the Texans, and he's given him credit for helping his oldest son, Tyler, develop into a successful tackle at Boston College. On Sunday, Quessenberry made his first career NFL start at left tackle following injuries to Taylor Lewan and Ty Sambrailo, and he played well. After the game, an emotional Quesseberry said he was thankful for the opportunity. The Titans are clearly happy to have him. "You know, I'm grateful (for coach Vrabel)," Quessenbery said. "I'm grateful for the type of man he is, for his belief in me, giving me the nod this week. He's a really, really special coach and I'm just proud to be able to play for him and play with these guys and it really does mean a lot to me. It's been a long time coming and I finally got the opportunity, the nod, and I want to make him proud and my teammates proud. I knew that I could do it if he gave me that opportunity and it felt good today."
Welcome Back, Brett
The Titans missed punter Brett Kern over the last few weeks. And on Sunday, Kern reminded everyone of just how much of a weapon he is with an impressive performance. Kern, who suffered a wrist injury against the Bengals, punted four times against the Colts for a 40-yard net. Wearing a brace, Kern put all four of his punts down inside the 13-yard line, forcing the Colts to start at their own 6, 8, 12, and 13-yard line. "It felt good," Kern said after the game. "I missed my crew, my fourth down crew. It felt good to get back out there and have a couple of good punts and to help the defense out with field position. So, it was a pretty good day."
A Heavy Heart
Titans receiver Corey Davis received a nice medallion from a fan prior to the game, which honored his brother, who passed away leading up to the team's first game against the Colts. Lost in the tragic death of Titus Davis was the fact Titans linebacker David Long Jr. lost his brother, Keith DeWitt, earlier this month as well. Long, who came off the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, stepped in a played significant snaps on Sunday at inside linebacker. Long said he did so with a heavy heart. "I lost my brother, and it felt amazing to be out there and play for him," said Long, who was credited with three stops, and a break-up. "That's what I was thinking the whole day, to go out there and play for him and I went out there and did the best I could. I am just glad to be back."
After a shaky start, the Titans stepped up on defense on Sunday. And, once again, cornerback Breon Borders did a solid job. After the game, Borders kicked himself for letting a potential pick-6 escape his grasp. But he ended up securing an interception later in the contest, and on the day he was credited with a pair of tackles. He was part of a secondary that looked a lot more physical than it did when the Titans played the Colts a few weeks ago. "All week, the staff, I felt like even the fans, the reporters, and everybody challenged us to challenge them, and be more physical," Borders said. "We just had to play better than we did the last game and be more physical. And I feel like we definitely were the more physical team (today)."
Titans receiver A.J. Brown is fun to watch, and on Sunday he provided two more highlight-reel plays. The electrifying Brown caught a short pass from Ryan Tannehill across the middle and turned it into a 69-yard touchdown catch. "Whenever I've got the ball in my hands I am trying to score – that is my mindset," said Brown, who finished the contest with four catches for 98 yards. "And (make sure) not get tackled inside the 10." Later, Brown did something even more unique – he fielded an onside kick and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. "On the sideline, I was joking with Corey (Davis), saying I was going to crib this," Brown said with a smile. "But I was just trying to not get hit. … They just told me to be aggressive. My mindset was to catch the ball and get out of the way, but it parted like the Red Sea."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12 at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)