Titans rope Colts, set sights on Jags again

Colts get some bad breaks

Jags happy to see Titans again

Titans (14-3) at Colts (13-3)

Titans cut down 'Big Three'

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Tennessee Titans took a basic approach to stopping Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison.

Edgerrin James
Colts running back Edgerrin James was held to just 64 total yards by the Titans.
They wanted to tackle, stop big plays and bend, but not break.

It worked to perfection Sunday as the Titans didn't give up anything longer than 33 yards after the second quarter in beating the Indianapolis Colts 19-16 to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

"We were trying to limit their high-powered offense with their super studs, and the defense did a great job of doing that," left tackle Brad Hopkins said.

The Titans gave up 305 yards, but just 117 after halftime. The team that was second in the NFL with 54 regular-season sacks didn't get to Manning, but the blitzes worked almost as well in keeping the Colts from getting into a rhythm.

"We had a hard time coming up with anything big or getting any big chunks of yardage," Indianapolis coach Jim Mora said.

With the Titans alternately bringing four, five and sometimes six rushers, Manning found himself trying to get rid of the ball quicker than normal. The quarterback who completed 62 percent of his passes during the regular season was just 19-for-43 for 227 yards.

When Manning did throw a pass, he had trouble connecting with Harrison. The receiver could have had a great day, but he dropped several passes and wound up with just five receptions for 65 yards.

Titans cornerback Samari Rolle, who covered Harrison much of the game, said they picked up clues on how to play Harrison physically by watching how the New York Jets covered him in their two games this season. The Colts scored just 16 and 13 points in their two victories over the Jets.

"We wanted to mirror what they did, and Harrison is a guy who doesn't like any contact," Rolle said.

The blitz also kept James in check. The NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year had to stay back and block for Manning, keeping him from getting out as much as a receiver.

When Manning handed the ball to James, his longest run was just 14 yards as the Titans concentrated on wrapping him up. Safety Blaine Bishop said Titans coaches emphasized all week that they had to have their best game this season tackling in the open field.

James finished with just one catch for eight yards and one of his worst days this season with 56 yards on 26 carries.

"They are very quick on defense and very strong," James said. "Someone needed to make a play, and we just couldn't get anything going. I think defenses adjusted to what we were doing all season long."

The Titans knew they would have trouble sacking Manning since the Colts allowed only 14 sacks during the regular season. End Kenny Holmes, who nearly got Manning in the end zone for a safety in the third quarter, said not getting a sack didn't matter because they got him out of his comfort zone.

"Everyone was saying we're supposed to get 30-40 points put on us by that marvelous group over there, and our defense came in on a mission," tackle Mike Jones said. "We succeeded."