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NFL: Colts grab tiebreaker in AFC South by beating Titans

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers passes against the Tennessee Titans.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers passes against the Tennessee Titans in the first half on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.
(Wade Payne / Associated Press)

Philip Rivers threw for 308 yards and a touchdown, and Nyheim Hines scored twice as the Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 34-17 Thursday night to grab the head-to-head edge atop the AFC South.

The Colts (6-3) will host the rematch in Indianapolis on Nov. 29 after helping coach Frank Reich improve to 4-1 against Titans coach Mike Vrabel. Indianapolis now is 14-5 at Nissan Stadium.

Indianapolis came in with the NFL’s best defense in terms of fewest yards allowed. The Colts smothered a Tennessee offense that had been averaging 384.6 yards a game, 10th-best in the NFL, and seventh-best averaging 29 points a game. E.J. Speed also blocked a punt that T.J. Carrie returned 6 yards for a TD late in the third quarter.

The Colts outgained Tennessee 430-294, though Derrick Henry ran for 103 yards.

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The Titans (6-3) lost for the third time in four games as they head into the toughest stretch of their season with Indianapolis the first of four straight opponents currently with winning records.

Tennessee led 17-13 at halftime. Indianapolis took advantage of the Titans’ special teams woes to score twice in the third quarter for a 27-17 lead.

Tennessee went with a third different punter in three games, promoting Trevor Daniel after signing him to the practice squad last weekend. Daniel’s first punt went 17 yards, and Hines scored four plays later on a 2-yard TD run. The Titans gave Daniel no help on his second, with Speed easily breaking through for the block.

Stephen Gostkowski then missed a 44-yard field goal wide right early in the fourth.

The Colts padded their lead to 34-17 with Jacoby Brissett capping the next drive with a 2-yard TD run with 9:21 left.

Indianapolis’ final margin would’ve been larger. But the Colts settled for a 43-yard field goal at the end of the first half, and the Titans forced a turnover on downs on Indianapolis’ opening drive of the third.


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