Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans weren’t able to make good on their win-and-in playoff opportunity.
Instead, the Titans lost 33-17 to the Colts in front of a lively, sold out Nissan Stadium, ending their 2018 season.
Blaine Gabbert started at quarterback in place of Marcus Mariota, who was among the team’s inactives. Mariota was limited in practices leading up to the contest with elbow/foot injuries, and the team held him out.
The Titans (9-7) forced a win-and-in playoff scenario by winning four straight games in December, but they fell short of making the playoffs.
Titans running back Derrick Henry ran for 93 yards, and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season in the contest. But it wasn’t enough, as the Titans fell behind early and couldn’t catch up.
The Colts took a 7-0 lead early, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Luck to receiver Dontrelle Inman to cap a 92-yard drive on the first possession.
Earlier, the Titans electrified the crowd with a reverse on the opening kickoff, as Dane Cruikshank took it across midfield after taking a handoff from Darius Jennings. But the Titans went three-and-out on their first possession.
The Colts stretched the lead to 14-0 on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Eric Ebron, which capped a 90-yard drive that took 9:58 off the clock.
Then, linebacker Jayon Brown stepped up and made a pair of mammoth plays for the Titans.
First, Brown intercepted Luck as he was being harassed by linebacker Kamalei Correa, and returned it for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
After Adoree’ Jackson mishandled a punt by the Colts, which was recovered at the Tennessee nine-yard line, Brown did it again. Brown forced a fumble, and then recovered it to give the Titans the ball once again.
The back-to-back defensive plays reenergized the crowd at Nissan Stadium, and it was 17-10 Colts over the Titans at the half following field goals for each team – a 53-yard kick by Adam Vinatieri with 39 seconds left before the half, and then a 38-yard kick by Ryan Succop at the halftime horn.
The Colts stretched the lead back to 24-10 on their first possession of the second half, however, on a one-yard touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Ryan Hewitt.
The Titans answered with a quick drove in the third quarter.
After a 33-yard run by Henry, Gabbert connected with tight end Luke Stocker for a 22-yard touchdown that made it 24-17 late in the third quarter.
The Titans had the ball with a chance to tie with just under 10 minutes left, but Gabbert was intercepted. The Colts turned it into another Vinatieri field goal to make it 27-17 with 3:55 left.
A late touchdown run by Marlon Mack made it 33-17 with 2:24 left.
The Titans ended the year with a 9-7 record, giving the franchise three straight winning seasons for the first time in the “Titans era.” Unfortunately, the season ended with disappointment, however, as the Titans fell short of their goal to make the playoffs.