Woodyard’s stop helps Titans end 11-game skid against Colts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Wesley Woodyard squatted and folded his arms as his Tennessee teammates bowed in front of the veteran linebacker near midfield in celebration, deserving every bit of the attention.
Woodyard had just forced Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett out of bounds shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-inches, sealing the Titans’ 36-22 win Monday night over Indianapolis.
It ended the Titans’ 11-game skid to their AFC South rivals — the one tied for the longest active drought against one team in the NFL. Cleveland now has lone possession of that mark against Denver.
“We feel like every game’s a must-win, but this was definitely a must-win, especially with the 11-game streak on the line,” said Woodyard, who also had a team-high eight tackles and recovered a fumble. “We came in and answered the call.”
The Titans (3-3) next head to winless Cleveland for a chance to move above .500 before their bye.
Still waiting for Andrew Luck, the Colts (2-4) have yet to beat a team with a win this season. Indianapolis has been outscored 85-22 in fourth quarters, and coach Chuck Pagano had to answer for another head-scratching finish this week. His Colts led 19-15 going into the fourth only to be outscored 21-3.
“We have to figure it out,” Pagano said.
Here are some things to know about the Colts and Titans:
Mariota played with a strained left hamstring that kept him out of last week’s loss in Miami, and the Titans quarterback was careful about it. The Colts sacked him once and hit him six times, but Mariota shuffled around the pocket to throw for a season-high 306 yards. His 53-yard touchdown with 5:29 left to a wide-open Taywan Taylor put the Titans ahead to stay.
“He’s a tough guy,” Titans running back Derrick Henry said. “To come out there at not even 100 percent, to come out here and play and lead us to a win against a good division opponent. All credit goes to him. That shows what type of leader he is, what type of guy he is and how great he is.
The Titans ran for 168 yards with Henry turning in his best game yet in the NFL. He ran 19 times for 131 yards and provided the final margin by running 72 yards for a TD inside the final minute.
“My goal was to get a first down,” Henry said. “We knew they were out of timeouts, so if we get the first down, that ends the game. But when I got past the safety, I saw grass, and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to go for it.’”
The Titans finally figured out how to slow down T.Y. Hilton, limiting the Colts’ star receiver to a single catch for 19 yards. The three-time Pro Bowl selection had 12 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ two victories over the Titans last season.
“He’s a game-wrecker, he can change the game,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “Whatever we can do to take him out of the game, we’re going to do. If it was taking two of our guys to cover him, we were going to do that.”
Titans kicker Ryan Succop set an NFL record by making his 47th straight field-goal attempt from inside 50 yards. He then made four more field goals from that distance to extend his streak to 51. Succop had been tied coming into the game for the NFL record with Atlanta’s Matt Bryant, who made 46 straight kicks from inside 50 yards from 2013-15. Succop made two 48-yarders and also connected from 32, 40 and 23 yards out.
“I’m so humbled, and I feel so blessed,” Succop said.
The Colts find themselves looking up at the rest of the division, and the Titans now are tied with Jacksonville and Houston at 3-3 with a 2-1 mark in the division that matches their win total for all of last season. “That was the whole objective to get a division win,” Mularkey said. “No other ultimatum. That was it. Get the win.”
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee contributed to this report.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker