Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts: Winners and Losers
Despite having numerous opportunities to take control of the game, the Titans struggled to punch the ball in the end zone and paid for it in the end, allowing an 80-yard touchdown drive on the Colts' first possession of overtime to fall to 3-5.
A number of questionable calls, including the elimination of a fumble that would have given Tennessee the ball well into field-goal range with under a minute remaining in regulation, will likely overshadow many of the defensive problems that reared their head late in the game.
Winner: Chris Johnson
For the third straight week, and the fourth time in his last five games, Chris Johnson ran with the intensity that Titans had grown accustomed to during his first few years in the league.
Piling up 99 yards on 21 carries, Johnson took what the defense throughout most of the game, breaking a few 10-plus yards late in regulation to add to his total.
Though he failed to reach the end zone or bust through the line of scrimmage for a long gain, the consistency the running game demonstrated despite the absence of Michael Roos was encouraging and should lead to even more good things moving forward.
Loser: Ryan Mouton
As the Titans nickel cornerback, Ryan Mouton has had his share of struggled, but to this point, had avoided the scrutiny of the coaching staff, the media and the fans throughout the first seven weeks.
His performance against the Colts will likely put him directly under the microscope as the team takes to the film room in the coming days.
While the Titans were able to generate their best pass rush of the season, a scrambling Andrew Luck was able to target Mouton early and often, converting a number of third downs as Mouton failed to maintain man-to-man coverage down field.
With Tommie Campbell still nursing an ankle injury, expect the Titans coaching staff to begin to give more snaps to rookie corner Coty Sensabaugh in the coming weeks.
Winner: Michael Griffin
After signing a five-year, $35 million contract this offseason, Michael Griffin has been the subject of many complaints and frustrations as the Titans defense has gotten off to a historically poor start.
For the first time this season, Griffin showcased the playmaking ability that many Titans fans hoped to see when the Titans selected him in the first round in 2007.
After breaking through the line and blocking a field to close the first half, Griffin added a spectacular, diving interception in the end zone in the second half to keep the Titans in the lead at the time.
Though Colts quarterback Andrew Luck managed to throw for nearly 300 yards, Griffin was able to keep plays in front of him and put together his best overall performance of the season.
Stays the Same: Matt Hasselbeck
After moving the football successfully throughout the first three quarters, Matt Hasselbeck struggled to close the game as the Titans offense managed just three points in the second half.
Hasselbeck completed 22-of-29 pass attempts for 236 yards and a touchdown on the game and was efficient with the football, but a pair of mistakes late prevent him from being classified as a "winner" in this game.
Hasselbeck missed a streaking Jared Cook on a potential go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and followed it up with a near interception on the next play to force a punt.
With many media members calling for a quarterback controversy in Tennessee, this performance will likely end most calls for Locker to remain on the bench when healthy.
Winners: Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley
The Titans defensive line was able to get penetration throughout the contest, forcing Andrew Luck out of the pocket and knocking down the rookie quarterback with impressive frequency.
Despite combining for just one sack, the consistency of the pass rush forced Luck into quick throws and allowed the Titans safeties to attack the run as the Colts struggled to stay on the field throughout the game.
With the issues the Titans defense has faced throughout nearly every week this season, the reemergence of a pass rush that has been missing for the better part of two years is an encouraging sign as Tennessee moves towards a matchup with a struggling Chicago offensive line next Sunday.
Loser: Titans' Red-Zone Offense
The Titans offense was able to move the ball effectively throughout most of the game, piling up nearly 350 yards of offense, but was unable to capitalize on numerous opportunities to close the game, as they failed to score a touchdown on two red-zone trips and Rob Bironas missed a kick that could have handed the Titans a two-possession lead.
A Matt Hasselbeck fumbled snap and a number of questionable penalties inside Colts territory highlighted consistent struggles by the offense to get anything going once they reached scoring range.
With a chance to move to .500 for the first time this season, the Titans needed their veteran quarterback to punch the ball into the end zone more than once if they hoped to hang on for the victory.