NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans defenders hit Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
They forced him into mistakes, and caused him to look flustered at times.
"For 3 ½ quarters, we had them,'' Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "There's no question we did what we needed to do to win this game -- or at least put ourselves into position to win this game."
In the end, however, the Titans ran out of, well, luck.
The Colts scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter en route to a 35-33 win over the Titans. Luck led the way, throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns. He guided a critical 98-yard drive.
The Titans kicked themselves for not closing the deal.
"If you're up like that, you allow your defense to finish the game up. You can't make silly mistakes,'' linebacker Zach Brown said. "When it's time for you to make a play, you have to make a play. Yes, this one definitely got away from us. We just have to make the plays.
"(Coaches) put us into the right calls, we just have to make the plays. Ball's in the air and you have to make the plays, knock it down, and find a way to get the ball down. We can't allow the ball to go over our heads."
Brown intercepted Luck in the game, and so did cornerback Perrish Cox.
Defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug sacked him, and so did Orakpo. The Titans were also credited with four quarterback hits on Luck.
After falling behind the Colts 14-0, the Titans had things going on defense. The Colts were kept off the scoreboard on offense in the second and third quarter as the Titans built a 27-14 lead.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in their Week 3 home opener at Nissan Stadium (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
Luck got things going with a 98-yard touchdown drive that was capped off with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett with 6:49 left in the game.
"It was huge,'' Luck said of the drive. "We got up there, and there was a special look in the guys' eyes. You're sitting on the 2-yard line. This is a test. If we can do this, we'll have a chance, and if we can't we won't have a chance. It's good to get a 98-yard touchdown drive, and a great job by the guys up front. Again, overcoming some penalties in that drive early I think as well, and what a great job."
The touchdown pass came on a third-and-20. It was one of two third-and-20 plays converted by the Colts in the game.
"That was tough, because we get them backed up, and the conversion rate on third and 20 isn't that good, but they scored a touchdown on that and that hurts us,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Luck's TD pass to Dorsett. "But what can I say? I am not going to fault our defense because they played their tails off today.
"They got a couple of turnovers, made plays. Our entire team did that. We made mistakes as a group. Whether you like it or not we've got to get better from it, but we showed a lot of heart with our football team and fought our way back in and we did a lot of good things. We understand that we came up short and we'll work to get better."
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Luck to receiver Donte Moncrief gave the Colts a 28-27 lead less than a minute later after Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw an interception. Frank Gore scored on a six-yard touchdown to cap a five-play, 69-yard drive less than four minutes later to make it 35-27.
Casey said the Titans need to do a better job of finishing.
"We just have to eliminate those big plays,'' Casey said. "We gave up that big play at the end of the game, and we couldn't defense the way we needed to. Started off pretty good, but just have to figure out a way to finish. We know how the Colts are. They are a team that can keep on fighting, and they are not going to give up to the last second. You know, we kept our head down and kept trying to go, but we just couldn't make the plays when we needed."
Gore ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton had four catches for a team-high 94 yards in the contest, but it was receivers Dorsett and Moncrief who got into the end zone for the Colts.
"Those guys in the end, Luck and Gore, they just made plays. My hat is off to them, they didn't quit. They got hot,'' Orakpo said. "It's frustrating. It's disappointing. We had this game, but that's the NFL for you. It's so hard to get a win. And you have to play every down and every snap. We just couldn't hold it (the lead).
"Man, this one hurts. We had it. This is the defending AFC South champs, and we definitely had this game. There are some positives to take from this game, but I'm not into moral victories. We let those guys off the hook, and you know, that's the most frustrating thing about it. But we can't dwell on this too long. We have a bye week and we'll work on all of our problems and get ready for Buffalo."