Colts Slay Titans, Clinch Playoff Berth

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Dec 30, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) fights off a tackle attempt from Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) for extra yards during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts defeated the Titans 33-17 in a win-and-in week 17 showdown, clinching a playoff berth. With this win, the Colts are locked into the sixth seed and will play in Houston in their first playoff game since 2015. This game was not pretty. The Colts’ first two series’ were picturesque as they took a 14-0 lead. On their third drive, Andrew Luck threw a boneheaded pick six to Jayon Brown. On the ensuing drive, Adoree’ Jackson muffed a punt, giving the Colts the ball inside the red zone. A few plays later, Marlon Mack fumbled the ball.

The rain is Andrew Luck’s kryptonite. Despite a solid stat line of 285 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, his performance was less than stellar. He wasn’t stepping up in the pocket as he usually did and his timing seemed off. After his interception, a switch seemed to flip in his head. Compounding this, penalties killed the Colts, committing an embarrassing 12 penalties for 96 yards. The Colts had a few lucky breaks, including a Titan pass interference on third and long and a boneheaded Blaine Gabbert interception.

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Luckily, the run game was clicking tonight. Quenton Nelson was mauling folks as usual and Marlon Mack netted a casual 119 yards and a score on 25 carries. Despite only rushing for 18 yards, Jordan Wilkins made an impact for the first time in a while. He had a few big runs taken away, one being a 10-yard touchdown. When the passing game wasn’t working, the run game picked up the slack. Despite nursing a blatantly injured ankle, T.Y. Hilton played well, two passes for 61 yards. Dontrelle Inman added five catches and 77 yards and Eric Ebron caught a touchdown, as per usual.

Aside from one very Mike Shanahan-esque two-play drive, the Colt defense played well against a shorthanded Titan offense. Blaine Gabbert missed a handful of throws and threw a gimme interception to Kenny Moore, along with a couple near picks. Miraculously, the Colts held Derrick Henry to only 93 yards, finishing the season as one of three teams to not allow a 100-yard rusher all year. Darius Leonard cemented himself as the rookie of the year, finishing with eight tackles, a pass deflection, and a pick, his second off of Blaine Gabbert. He leads the NFL in tackles as a rookie, a fantastic achievement for any player. Kenny Moore played his best game of the season, with two pass deflections and a pick.

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The Colts would have liked a better week 17 showing but they are in the playoffs. For a team many predicted to be the worst in the NFL before the season, making the playoffs is a momentous accomplishment. Frank Reich, Andrew Luck, and co. should be proud of this season, despite how this game went. The Colts turn to next Saturday, where they play the Texans on the road for the third time this season in the wild-card round.

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Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.

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