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Monday, Jan. 26, 2015

Titans remain unbeaten, grab hold on AFC South

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The NFL's last undefeated team wanted to make a statement at the expense of the Indianapolis Colts.

The Tennessee Titans -- yes, the Titans -- did just that to grab a stranglehold on the AFC South.

Chris Hope intercepted Peyton Manning twice, and the Titans scored 25 straight points in rallying from a 14-6 second-half deficit in a 31-21 win Monday night.

"We just want to send a message to the whole world that we're for real around here," Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse said. "No matter what we're into, we're going to give you a 60-minute ballgame."

The Titans are 7-0 for the first time with a four-game lead over the team that had won the past five division titles. They also have won an NFL-best 10 straight regular-season games, stunning the Colts (3-4) with two fourth-down stops on consecutive possessions.

LenDale White scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, Chris Johnson added a TD and Kerry Collins out-managed Manning by throwing for a mistake-free 193 yards as the Titans played a bit of keepaway by holding the ball for nearly 33 minutes.

"The Colts were the team to beat, and I think now, the Titans are the team to beat," Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck said.

Indianapolis now must prep for a Sunday night visit from New England (5-2) followed by a trip to Pittsburgh (5-2) while trying to snap a two-game skid. Coach Tony Dungy concedes hopes of another division title are almost gone with the focus now on stringing together enough victories to contend for their first wild-card berth since 2002.

"We will see what the last nine games bring. If we play well and get ourselves on a streak and get going, we can be a playoff team," Dungy said. "It's disappointing. We have to get over it fast."

Manning had his own advice.

"I hope we can play a little ticked off," he said. "There's a healthy way to be angry and try to bounce back and do something about it. We had some chances tonight. We had the lead, and then just they made the plays in the second half, and we didn't."

The Colts led 7-6 at halftime and 14-6 in the third quarter after Manning's second TD pass to Dallas Clark.

The Titans took control with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 7 minutes, 45 seconds, when White finally got into the end zone on his third try. Titans coach Jeff Fisher went for the 2-point conversion with 3:21 left in the third, and Collins rolled out to his right and tossed a pass to fullback Ahmard Hall to tie the game.

Indianapolis tried to answer and gambled on fourth-and-1, but linebacker Stephen Tulloch stopped Dominic Rhodes behind the line of scrimmage. Bironas kicked his second field goal to put Tennessee ahead to stay at 17-14. Former Colts cornerback Nick Harper helped break up a fourth-and-2 pass from Manning to Marvin Harrison, and White scored 13 plays later.

Hope picked off a pass tipped by Clark, setting up rookie Chris Johnson's 16-yard TD run for a 31-14 lead with 3:31 left.

"It's not a fluke that we're undefeated. It's not a fluke," Hope said. "We've played consistent football all year, Sunday in and Sunday out."

On Monday night, too.

Manning answered with a drive he capped with his own 1-yard sneak. Typical of the Colts' luck, the ensuing onside kick didn't travel the required 10 yards. Not that it mattered because Titans safety Michael Griffin recovered.

"It feels awesome to do that in front of a national audience," Hall said. "They weren't giving us any credit, so I mean, if you do that and you beat the Colts decisively on a national stage, then you've proven it there."

Not that Fisher is ready to celebrate. The Titans host Green Bay (4-3) on Sunday.

"The season is still early, and there are a lot of games left. ... We'll now look ahead to next weekend, but as far as the division stuff and all the stuff concerned, we're just trying to win ballgames right now," Fisher said.

Notes:

The Titans inducted Steve McNair, Eddie George and Frank Wycheck into their new Ring of Honor at halftime. The trio helped take this team to its lone Super Bowl appearance in 2000. ... With Manning's late TD, the Colts snapped the Titans' streak of consecutive games holding opponents to 17 or fewer points to nine. The San Francisco 49ers of 1990-1991 did that 10 straight times, the best streak in the NFL since the start of the 1980 season. ... Titans defensive end Dave Ball, due to start for deactivated Pro Bowl end Kyle Vanden Bosch, sustained a concussion on the opening kickoff and did not play after that. ... Titans running back Quinton Ganther also sustained a concussion on kickoff coverage.



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