Top Five Indianapolis Colts/Tennessee Titans Games Featuring Peyton Manning
When Peyton Manning was selected by the Colts as the No. 1 draft pick in 1998, the team was in the AFC East. The Colts joined the new AFC South in 2002, and it quickly became Colt central. The Titans won the initial division title, but in the nine seasons that Peyton was the starting QB, the Colts won seven division titles.
The Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts had a lot of fantastic meetings in Peyton Manning’s time with the blue and white. There were some beat-downs in that time as well. After the Titans won their first three meetings, Peyton went 13-3 against the team based in the state where he was a collegiate legend.
One of the reasons why the Tennessee Titans failed to become a statewide team as the name implies is that fans of Peyton from his University of Tennessee days became Colt fans when he was drafted by Indianapolis.
I will summarize the best five of the 16 Peyton/Titans games. There were good games sprinkled in a rivalry that at times was as competitive as Vandy/Tennessee in football.
January 16, 2000: Titans 19, Colts 16
The Peyton Manning playoff legend includes seven first-game losses. His first was January 16, 2000. The Titans came off a miraculous win over the Bills in the Wild Card round. The Colts were AFC East champs, a surprising 13-3 in Peyton’s second year in the NFL.
Like the previous week’s game against the Bills, scoring was hard to come by early on. It was a field goal fest with the Colts leading 9-6 at the half. One big play was going to break it open.
On first and ten from the Titan 32, the Colts crowded the line of scrimmage because they knew it was going to be a run. For a Titan fan who endured the run blocking of 2011, this seems like doctored footage. George really only had to make one guy miss, and I love how #38 tackles him almost at the back end of the end zone. The touchdown made the game 13-9, and the Titans added two more field goals before Peyton scored his first playoff touchdown on a 15-yard scramble late in the fourth quarter.
In a strange irony, Steve McNair beat Peyton Manning in his first playoff game. In Steve McNair’s last playoff game, Peyton Manning and the Colts beat the Ravens 15-6.
December 3, 2006: Titans 20, Colts 17
After the Titans swept the Colts in 2002, it was all Indy all the time. The Colts won seven in a row heading into a Week 13 matchup in Nashville. The Titans started 0-5 but had won three in a row. It was 4-7 Tennessee against 10-1 Indy.
The game started as expected, with Marvin Harrison catching a 68-yard bomb from Peyton and Dominic Rhodes scoring from two yards out to make it 14-0 Colts. During the Titans’ crazy second half of the year, they were used to trailing early. This game continued the Vince Young rookie legend.
The Titans took the lead on a nine-yard pass from Young to Brandon Jones. The Colts stormed back and tied the game on a short Vinatieri field goal.
With 2:32 to go, it looked like the Titans were content to run the clock out. Vince Young hit Brandon Jones for 18 yards, getting the Titans into Colt territory. With 12 seconds left, it was fourth and 11 from the Colt 42. It seemed too long to try for a game-winning kick, and if that kick was no good, Peyton would get the ball at midfield with a few seconds left.
The Titans kicked. The rest is history.
September 16, 2007: Colts 22, Titans 20
After the Vince Young heroics in 2006, 2007 was all about the defense. In an early-season throwdown, the Titans hoped to jump over the favored Colts and take over the division.
Peyton and the Colts had their way early, taking a 16-6 halftime lead. Manning couldn't get the Colts back in the end zone, but two field goals gave them a 22-13 lead entering the fourth quarter. The home crowd looked forward to a 2006-style Vince Young comeback.
It wasn't 2006. Young found Roydell Williams for a one-yard touchdown with 6:05 to go. Manning got two first downs but couldn't get the clincher. The Titans had the ball at their own 20 with 1:37 to go. Bob Sanders sacked Young on first down, and that was about it.
October 27, 2008: Titans 31, Colts 21
2008 was unusual for many reasons. Vince Young got hurt in the opener and was replaced by Kerry Collins. The Titans wouldn't stop winning and the Colts had trouble with consistency. Heading into the Monday Night game, the Titans were 6-0 and the Colts were 3-3. A win meant the Titans all but clinched the division with ten weeks to go.
It's never easy for the Titans against the Colts. Early in the third quarter, Peyton Manning found Dallas Clark wide open down the middle and the score was 14-6 Titans. The defense, a strength all year, decided that was enough. Three rushing touchdowns later, two by LenDale White, and it was 31-14. Peyton took in a QB sneak to finish the scoring.
January 2, 2011: Colts 23, Titans 20
The Colts limped to a division title in Peyton Manning's final season in Indianapolis. The Titans were no match, starting 5-2 and losing seven of their next eight heading into the finale. As usual, the Colts didn't need to finish with a win to clinch a division title. Peyton played because he always plays and the Titans gave the Colts a spirited battle.
It was all field goals until Manning threw a touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne in the second quarter. The Titans battled back with a Kerry Collins to Kenny Britt connection. Entering the fourth quarter, it was 20-20.
In the final minutes, neither team wanted to win. The Colts fumbled with less than two minutes and the Titans only needed a couple of first downs to ensure a Rob Bironas field goal attempt. Kerry Collins fumbled the snap and the Colts recovered. This video must not have been reviewed before the Colts signed Collins in the 2011 preseason.
With 85 seconds to go, Manning hit Blair White to get into Titan territory and with less than 30 seconds left completed a pass to Jacob Tamme that got the team into Adam Vinatieri field goal range. With three seconds to go, Vinatieri booted the ball through the uprights and that was the last Peyton Manning win for the Colts.