Titans Fall Short at Indy in Season Finale

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INDIANAPOLIS —A disappointing season came to a close here on Sunday.

Now, some big questions need to be answered heading into an offseason with plenty of uncertainty.

In the final game of the season, the Titans lost 30-24 to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, as quarterback Alex Tanney finished the year behind center.

The loss dropped the Titans to 3-13 on the year.

The team will have the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

"I told them to keep their head up high,'' Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey said afterward. "I (told) them I am very proud of them, they have a lot to be proud of. They've done a lot of good things (and) the record may not reflect it. But I thought today was a good description of how they've been all year, they played all the way to the last whistle, the last play to see if we had a chance to win the game.

"They have a lot to be proud of, regardless of what the record was."

Mularkey, who replaced Ken Whisenhunt after seven games this season, said after the game he hopes to be considered for the job on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, players expressed mixed feelings following a season that ended with four straight losses.

"It probably sounds crazy, but I feel like we left on a positive note,'' tackle Byron Bell said. "A lot of people are going to sit there and look at the record -- that is just the society we live in. They look at the record and they see 3-13. And they say, "This is not a good football team." But that's not true.

"You look at our games and we were in a lot of games. We just have to clean up mistakes and get over the hump. It's a process, and once we trust the process the sky is the limit for the team. Just because we finished 3-13 doesn't mean we are a bad football team."

Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said a part of him is "sad" it's over.

"It has been very memorable and forgettable at the same time,'' Orakpo said of the season. "We want to make sure we don't have a season like this again."

With Marcus Mariota ruled out earlier in the week, Zach Mettenberger started Sunday's game for the Titans, but he left early in the third quarter with a forearm injury, and was replaced by Tanney.

Tanney turned in a respectable performance, nearly guiding the Titans to a second half comeback, but it wasn't enough. A last-minute drive was stopped, and the Colts held on.

Mettenberger finished the game 5-of-13 for 38 yards, with an interception.

Tanney finished the game 10-of-14 for 99 yards, with a touchdown pass.

The Titans took the lead in the first quarter on a five-yard touchdown run by Mettenberger, which made it 7-3.

The touchdown was set by an interception from safety Da'Norris Searcy, who picked off Colts quarterback Josh Freeman.

The Colts got on the scoreboard first on a 49-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, and they scored again on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Freeman to tight end Colby Fleener, who got behind Titans safety Michael Griffin, to make it 10-7.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17 at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

The Titans answered back with an impressive drive on their next possession, however, as Mettenberger drove the team 80 yards on 11 plays. The drive was capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by running back David Cobb, which made it 14-10.

The Colts ended the first half with momentum, however, as Vinatieri kicked a 52-yard field goal before quarterback Ryan Lindley connected with receiver Andre Johnson on an 18-yard touchdown pass with just 13 seconds left to give Indianapolis a 20-14 lead at the break.

The Colts kept it going at the start of the third quarter, as linebacker Jerrell Freeman intercepted a batted pass thrown by Mettenberger and returned it for a touchdown to make it 27-14.

Tanney replaced Mettenberger, who suffered a forearm injury, in the third quarter. Tanney guided the team on an 11-play drive capped off by a 49-yard field goal by Ryan Succop to make it 27-17 midway through the third quarter.

Tanney later connected with receiver Dorial Green-Beckham on a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-24 with 11:07 left in the contest. Tanney completed his first seven passes to start the contest.

Another Vinatieri field goal made it 30-24 with 2:25 remaining. The Titans got the ball back, but turned the ball over on downs.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker reached two milestones in the contest.

Walker became the first tight end in franchise history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season. With five catches in the first half, he also became just the ninth tight end in NFL history to record 90 catches in a season.

But he said he'd rather end the year with a win.

"There was a lot of fight, but we just couldn't get it done,'' Walker said. "We showed a lot of fight. I am pretty sure the organization is going to figure out what to do and find some more guys to help us out.

"I think we are just a few pieces off and we just have to find out how to solve the puzzle to get on the right track."

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