Luck keeps record perfect against Titans with 38-10 victory
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck followed the perfect plan Sunday.
He threw three more touchdown passes again, avoided getting sacked again and helped Adam Vinatieri achieve another record-breaking moment by leading the Colts to their fourth straight win.
Luck and T.Y. Hilton hooked up twice for scores, Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins each ran for one touchdown and the Colts’ defense stymied Tennessee in a 38-10 drubbing that gave Luck a 10-0 record against the Titans.
“Andrew was just unbelievable,” coach Frank Reich said after his quarterback improved to 10-0 in the series. “I mean every throw was with pinpoint accuracy.”
His timing was spot on, too.
With some of the franchise’s greatest players in attendance, Luck went 23 of 29 for 297 yards and finished with a rating of 143.8. He tied Dan Marino for the third-longest streak of consecutive games with three or more TD passes (seven) in league history. Only Tom Brady (10) and Peyton Manning (eight) remain ahead of Luck on the list.
Hilton caught nine passes for 155 yards in front of Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, the top two receivers in each of the Colts’ most prominent receiving categories.
And the victory, the 210th regular-season win of Vinatieri’s career, allowed the 45-year-old to break George Blanda’s record as Indy (5-5) moved squarely back into the playoff hunt.
For the Titans (5-5), it was all too familiar.
They’ve lost to Luck when he never gave them a chance, when he rallied the Colts late, when he was pulled early and even when he was hurt. This loss might have been the most frustrating yet.
After defensive coordinator Dean Pees was taken to a nearby hospital when medical workers took him out of the press box in a wheelchair during the first quarter, first-year coach Mike Vrabel took over play-calling duties and Luck skewered the league’s top-ranked defense.
Losing starting quarterback Marcus Mariota with an injured right elbow in the final minute of the first half certainly didn’t help.
Vrabel provided no postgame update on Mariota but said Pees would be kept overnight for further tests. The 69-year-old Pees retired briefly after last season, and Luck and Reich both said they hoped Pees would be all right.
“They were ready to go. They played much better than we did. They coached much better than we did,” Vrabel said. “We have to drop this and lose it after we make the corrections, and get going.”
Luck made it look easy.
After Mack’s 1-yard run and Vinatieri’s 22-yard field goal gave Indy an early 10-0 lead, Luck connected with Hilton on a 68-yard TD pass. Wilkins’ 18-yard scoring run made it 24-0.
All the Titans could muster was a 42-yard field on the final play of the half — after Mariota left and only after the Colts drew an unnecessary roughness penalty.
Indy put it away by winning a replay challenge that turned a Hilton’s 11-yard catch into a 14-yard TD and a 7-yard scoring pass from Luck to Dontrelle Inman in the fourth quarter.
“I cannot speak to the previous years,” Luck said of his mastery over Tennessee. “I’m just happy we’re 1-0 this year against Tennessee and we’ll face them again, obviously, when that time comes.”
Wayne became the 15th member of the Colts’ Ring of Honor on Sunday during a halftime ceremony where he was surrounded by former teammates including Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James, and NFL Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, who drafted Wayne in 2001.
He played in a franchise-record 211 games and caught 1,070 passes for 14,345 yards and 82 TDs in 14 seasons — all in Indy.
“This (blue) jacket looks pretty damn good on me, thank you,” Wayne said before jogging to the end zone to thank the fans — as he did for years just before kickoff.
Titans: Mariota was 10 of 13 with 85 yards and one interception before leaving. Blaine Gabbert went 11 of 16 with 118 yards, one TD and one interception after replacing Mariota. ... Tennessee allowed five sacks. ... The Titans gave up a season-high point total.
Colts: Luck was not sacked for the fifth consecutive game, breaking a tie for the fifth-longest streak in the league since sacks became an official stat in 1982. Luck has not been sacked in 214 consecutive dropbacks. ... Starting center Ryan Kelly left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and did not return. He said his knee will be examined Monday.
THEY SAID IT
Titans: “I was able to get the headset switched over, and everybody on the staff, just like they do with Dean, was able to help out,” Vrabel said.
Colts: “I guess I knew they kept that stat, but I didn’t know I was close,” Vinatieri said of passing Blanda.
Titans: Vrabel returns to Houston next Monday.
Colts: Welcome former division foe Miami to Indianapolis next Sunday.