NASHVILLE—They called it a "Code Blue" night at LP Field.
Fans got baby blue t-shirts, baby blue towels, all in hopes of stopping the free fall of the AFC's best team in 2008, and a return to glory against their biggest rival the Indianapolis Colts.
Indianapolis' 31-9 win Sunday night was far from a work of art. There were two first half turnovers, nearly another fumbled kickoff, and then a interception that was dropped deep in their own territory.
See: Larry Hawley's Live Blog From Colts-Titans Game
But when you face a team that's the opposite of perfect, only a few timely plays-and mistakes by the Titans-were needed from the Colts to stay undefeated and take a commanding three game lead in the AFC South, a division they lost on this same field nearly a year ago to a Titans team that now sits 0-5.
"Its a very difficult place to play against an outstanding team that is extremely well coached but I think our guys came out and played with some enthusiasm and effort," said Colts head coach Jim Caldwell.
But capitalizing on Titan mistakes was what got them the win especially with 1:04 to go in the first half and the Colts up 14-9. Starting at their own seven, the Colts got the benefit of two roughing the passer calls against the Titans-one on Kyle Vanden Bosch and the other against Jacob Ford-that helped them churn up quick yardage. Then rookie Austin Collie made a backup secondary look the part, blowing past defenders, then using a few juke moves and a dive to punch in a 39 yard touchdown reception that turned the sell out crowd the color of their complimentary shirts.
"Peyton (Manning) has always done a good job in that two-minute operation where he gets us typically in position to get some points," said Caldwell of the final drive of the first half. "They certainly gave us a little help with those penalties, particularly with the 15-yard variety."
Starting the second half, the Titans didn't give them much reason to hang around, as a Tim Jennings interception and another Collie touchdown 5:02 into the third quarter began the mass exodus to the parking lots with the Colts taking what would turn out to be an insurmountable 19 point lead.
"I really dont think their record is indicative to the kind of team they are," said Manning of the Titnas. "Theyre still stingy. We kind of had to be patient."
Check Out: Larry Hawley's Cliffs Notes for the Colts For Titans Game
Truth be told, the Colts never trailed on Sunday night, but their start did leave something to be desired through the first 28:59. On Tennessee's first possession, Antoine Bethea jarred the ball loose from Alge Crumpler, and the recovery and short run by Keyunta Dawson gave the Colts a short field at the Titans' 23. Reggie Wayne's fourth down catch in the end zone gave the Colts the early 7-0 lead.
Then came a little bit of sloppiness on the Colts part. After a defensive stop on the following series, Jennings ran into returner T.J. Rushing on the punt, which was recovered by Eugene Amano. Tennessee could only muster a Rob Bironas field goal, but on the next drive got Colts drive got a turnover when a pressured Manning was hit while trying to throw, causing a lofty pass that was intercepted by Keith Bullock. Again the Titans couldn't move against a Colts defense that allowed just 35 rushing yards in the first half, forcing another Bironas field goal.
"We didnt convert some third downs that would have allowed us to get a little bit closer and take some shots," said Titans quarterback Kerry Collins. "And, against this team, thats what youve got to do."
Read: Colts-Titans Pre Game Primer
After the Colts put together an 81 yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, capped by a Joseph Addai one-yard dive, Tennessee had another chance to get a touchdown but stalled at the 28 yard line to force another field goal. Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins was nearly picked off late in the drive, but his floater pass was picked up late by Jennings, who couldn't hang on to the interception.
"To have a chance to beat the Colts, the way they are playing right now, you have to play close to a near-perfect game and it was clear tonight that we didnt," said Titans head coach Jeff FIsher.