NASHVILLE – To cap off Oilers Tribute Week, the Titans struck oil with a big win over the Colts.
With Oilers flags flying, and many of the franchise's legends from Houston watching on, the Titans beat the Colts 25-16 on Sunday before 67,914 fans at Nissan Stadium.
The win improved the Titans record to 2-1, while the Colts dropped to 0-3.
"Very important," Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said after the game. "Finally, got a little bit of momentum coming back here from Seattle, back at home, (in the) division. … These games are difficult. These games are tough against Indianapolis. And give them a lot of credit, but I felt like our guys were better in the end."
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 18-of-27 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns in the contest, and he also made some big plays with his legs, rushing for 56 yards on five carries.
Titans running back Derrick Henry carried the ball 28 times for 113 yards, and once again he did some good work catching the football out of the backfield.
The Titans turned the ball over three times, which allowed the Colts to stay in it.
But the Titans were stingy on defense, holding Indianapolis to only one touchdown and to 3-of-12 (25 percent) on their third down attempts.
In the end, the banged-up Titans found a way to win.
"Most games in the NFL come down to the fourth quarter, that is just the reality," Tannehill said. "It is a very competitive league. We have to find a way and believe that we can find a way to win those tough games. Whether we are behind trying to go get the go-ahead score, or today where we are ahead and trying to tack on points to make it a two-score game again. We have a lot of confidence in each other. We talked about it, we realize these games are going to be tough battles. Finishing is huge, finishing every play, and finishing the game. It is something that is a pillar of our program, and we believe in it."
Vrabel was aggressive early, and late, and it paid off.
Facing a 4th and 4 from the Colts 41 midway through the first quarter, the Titans went for it, and got it on a 15-yard pass from Tannehill to receiver Julio Jones.
Four plays later, Tannehill connected with receiver Chester Rogers for a six-yard touchdown pass to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter. The score capped an 11-play, 71-yard drive.
"I got open quick, and scored, and it was a great feeling," said Rogers, a former Colt. "We knew we had to make plays."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 at Nissan Stadium.
The Colts tied the game at 7-7 on a nine-yard touchdown run by running back Nyheim Hines in the second quarter.
But the Titans answered back with an impressive, eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capping it off with an 18-yard scoring toss from Tannehill to receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine with 5:56 left in the second quarter to reclaim the lead 14-7.
"It's kind of sweet, my first one," Westbrook-Ikhine said of the touchdown. "I kind of blacked out once I got in the end zone a little bit, but it was great to score. I just wanted to hold on to the ball."
The Titans led 14-10 at the half as the Colts got on the board with a 43-yard field goal by kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, which followed another Titans turnover. The Colts got all 10 of their first half points off of interceptions by Tannehill, although the second one came on a pass that bounced off of Rodgers.
The Colts cut the lead to 14-13 in the third quarter on another Blankenship field goal, this one from 28 yards, to cap a 17-play, 66-yard drive.
Later, the Titans put together a mammoth five-play, 59-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter, and capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to running back Jeremy McNichols. A successful two-point try, thanks to a run by Henry, made it 22-13 Titans with 12:56 left.
A 22-yard field goal by Blankenship made it 22-16 Titans over Colts with 10:20 remaining.
But the Titans responded with a 14-play, 67-yard drive and capped it off with a 32-yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock to take a 25-16 lead with 2:58 left.
And the Titans held on for the win.
"Not really worried about them," Henry said of the Colts. "It is what we need to do as a team, and come out, get a win against a divisional opponent, a tough opponent. Now sitting at 2-1, we've got some momentum going. We are going to watch film, make some corrections, get ready for next week and let that carry over and see where it takes us."
The Titans lost receiver A.J. Brown in the first quarter with a hamstring injury, and linebacker Bud Dupree was sidelined with a knee injury. Receiver Julio Jones also didn't play in the final stages of the contest, when the team also lost cornerback Kristian Fulton for a stretch.
The Titans travel to face the New York Jets next Sunday.
They'd like to keep things rolling. The Titans have now beaten the Colts three times in the last four games between the two AFC South teams.
"I wouldn't say getting over the hump," Titans safety Kevin Byard said. "I think it is just having a great gameplan first and foremost and just executing it. We understand what kind of team we are, especially at the end of that Seattle game, the second half. We kind of understood who we are and who are aren't. I think that we continue to plan to our strengths and kind of hide our weaknesses. If we don't give up big plays and make the team drive the ball, we feel like we can be pretty dominant. We just have to keep it going."