For maybe just a split second, Colts players and fans held their collective breath near the endzone toward the end of the first half.
After Peyton Manning had just released a pass to Joseph Addai, Kyle Vanden Bosch delivered a hit right to the quarterbacks knee.
"I have had that hit before," said Manning of getting hit around the middle of his leg. "I don't know if I have to validate it or not, but I have got to see the doctor after this and get treatment."
At the time it meant a lot for the Colts. That penalty gave them 15 yards, and then another hit after the play by Jacob Ford that helped the them march 93 yards in six plays for what turned out to be the backbreaking touchdown before the half.
Going for the knee of a quarterback, however, has been a major topic in the battle of how much is too much when it comes to protecting quarterbacks. Controversial roughing the passer calls by the Ravens last week against Tom Brady-which were also near the knee, have brought the hit Manning took to the forefront.
"I know it is a big talk with Baltimore against Tom (Brady) last week. I don't ask for the calls. I don't celebrate when they call," said Manning of getting roughing the passer calls in his favor. "I just go out and play."
Asked about the hit after the game, Vanden Bosch was asked if Manning's status as an elite quarterback in the NFL may have garnered the call.
"I don't know," responded the defensive end. "The rules are in place to protect the quarterback and I think they try to protect their quarterbacks."
He's No. 3
Before the roughing call, Manning made another move in the record books thanks to a three yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne.
With that toss, Manning increased his career scoring pass total to 343, which put him ahead of Fran Tarkenton for third on the NFL's All-Time list. He now trails the Vikings' Brett Favre (469) and former Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino on the All-Time touchdown passing list.
In keeping on the subject of threes, Manning also became the third player in NFL history to throw for 300 or more yards in five consecutive games, going over the mark in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of hand.
"I have never been about that or tried to do that in the middle of the season," said Manning, insisting that getting to 300 yards didn't mean anything. "A couple times on the last game of the season I have tried to get a receiver. I will admit that. I tried to get Reggie Wayne, if he needed five catches. Ill do that."
"I like to do that for other people. I have never tried to do something for myself."
...And Nowhere to Hide
Despite their struggles this season, the Titans have had no problem running thanks to the outstanding play by Chris Johnson, who came into the game averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 108 yards per game.
"We knew the beast we we're going up against," said linebacker Clint Session of Johnson, and it certainly showed throughout the game.
"We know we has a lot of speed so we sort of clogged the middle, gave him no running lanes in the middle, and everyone was diciplined in their gaps," said Session, who finished with a team-high nine tackles. "We've got enough speed to run to the outside and get him out of bounds."
The Colts overall allowed 90 yards rushing, but gave up just 35 in the first half when the game was still in question. It was the Titans' inability to run, along with untimely penalties, that kept them from reaching the endzone for the game.
"That's what its all about, getting to the ball, getting ten or 11 hats on the ball and he's gonna go down," said safety Melvin Bullitt on stopping the Titans' running attack.
What About Bob? Not Yet
A bit of optimism came this week on the subject of Bob Sanders, as the injured safety practiced for the first time and had an outside shot to play against the Titans.
Instead Sanders was back on the sidelines for the Colts, missing his fifth game of the season with a knee injury.
"I didn't think he would be quite ready to go today, but he is very, very close," said Caldwell of Sanders. "So we'll see what happens after the bye."
A Look At The Opponents: The Tennessee Titans
One of the lasting images of Sunday night's game-and maybe the entire season-was watching the fans leave the game in the middle of the third quarter, when the Colts seized control of the game.
"They came out with high expectations as did we tonight. Unfortunately it didn't work out for us," said Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher of the fans."But they've been great over the years and I would expect them to continue to be great."
That might not be as sure of a bet for the Titans themselves, who have fallen to 0-5 this season following the 22 point loss to the Colts Sunday night. In the AFC South, a division they won last season, they sit a five games behind the undefeated Colts, a hole to which they'll likely not dig out of.
"I'm sick of talking about this, because when you're losing the way we have there is really not much to say," said linebacker Keith Bulluck, whose interception of Manning was one of the few highlights for the Titans Sunday. "At this point it's definitely tough to analyze as far as something drastic needing to be done."
One place to start might be finishing drives because the Titans' inability to score touchdowns rather than field goals cost them a chance for an early lead against the Colts. An illegal block stalled the first Titans field goal drive, while a holding penalty on a drive following a Colts turnover force kicker Rob Bironas to kick a 43 yard field goal to salvage points. In 12 drives against the Colts on Sunday, the Titans never got to the red zone.
"You've got to convert on third down and get those kinds of opportunities," said quarterback Kerry Collins, who was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Vince Young. "We just didn't take advantage of the ones that we had."
Stat of the Game-0-7
The record of the Titans since their infamous "Terrible Towel" stomp during their week 15 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at LP Field. That included a loss to the Colts in the final game, a home loss to the Ravens in the playoffs, and then five defeats to open the 2009 season.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times