Indianapolis Colts Recap: Week 10, at Tennessee Titans

Colts Titans
Last December’s contest between the two teams, when Jacoby Brissett was actually allowed to throw the football.

This fall, the magazine will recap each week of the Colts’ strange, pandemic-hobbled season. This week: digital editor Derek Robertson, with contributors Derek Schultz and Nate Miller did things a little differently, live-blogging the Thursday night matchup… to each other, via email. Read the present-tense recap of an all-important solid win against their divisional rival below.

Derek Robertson: Good evening, friends—here we are, kicking off some primetime Colts football that might, coincidentally, end up being an important Wild Card matchup and… I am already hearing the pensive “player down” bumper music for Xavier Rhodes, less than a minute into the game. Not an auspicious start! That aside, what are we all expecting tonight against this Titans team that’s seemed at times just as maddeningly inconsistent as our hometown Colts?

Nate Miller: Welcome to our “Thursday Night Football” pseudo-live-blogging thing!! It’s like Twitter, but on a blog! Finally the Colts’ impressive defense gets to show its stuff to a primetime audience, they get to show this country—OPE, never mind, the Titans just scored in literally the first nanosecond they had the ball. The good news, I suppose, if there is any, is that the Colts’ offense gets the chance early on to prove that they’re not a useless pile of voter fraud, that they’re better than— OPE, never mind, they just ran it on 4th and 1 and got negative-LOL yards. Turnover on downs. This is better than watching cable news, I guess. If only barely.

DR: After the first quarter, this has been about exactly the sort of contest I’d imagine between these two teams, painstakingly clawing territory back and forth with inconsistent flashes of greatness. Is it just me, or does Jonathan Taylor look pathologically focused on *not fumbling* this week each time he gets hit at the expense of some of his usual gritty push-forward-ness? The increased role for Hines is obviously pushing him on that front—although the extent to which the Titans are just daring Rivers to throw on them is certainly giving him favorable conditions. I know I should just be focused on a great primetime divisional game, but I can’t stop thinking about how handily either of these teams is inevitably going to get destroyed in the first round by the Chiefs or Steelers. In the spirit of the moment, I’ll try to appreciate what’s in front of us now, which is, conveniently, our pint-sized Hines running a beautiful option route for a skin-of-his-teeth touchdown. Way to go, little dude.

Derek Schultz: Hines is clearly skilled. You just have to get him in space instead of pretending like he’s Jerome Bettis on 3rd and inches. The Colts have some interesting ingredients in their kitchen. Since my wife is the breadwinner, I prepare all the meals, and this Colts offense reminds me of how I cook. I have basically no skill whatsoever and the cupboards are usually lacking for options, but dammit, THIS DINNER IS GOING TO WORK, OK? Sometimes, it’s absolutely terrible—my chicken cordon bleu experiment was like the second half of the Ravens game. Sometimes, it’s pretty good—like my Schultz-y Enchiladas. Those are stellar, like dunk-all-over-the-Lions good (sorry, Derek).

DR: I forgive you, mostly because I’m too distracted by Rivers’ scrambling to clock that ball right before halftime to be offended; it was probably the fastest I’ve seen him move around in the pocket since Peyton Manning was in his shoes behind the Colts’ line. And with that, given what we’ve seen, how are we feeling about the Colts’ chances over the next half-hour?

NM: You know what? That was a fun half of football, and in this age of our crumbling democracy and the impending doom of being locked down again with a 3-year-old maniac/drug lord(?), I will take it. Gladly. The average Seahawks fan sitting in Bellevue, Washington, for example, isn’t hating this telecast, which is rare for a Thursday Night Football game in this tumultuous time of ours, or any other time, really. Smarter football people than me will break down the All-22 film and point out what the Colts did well and what they didn’t. I don’t have that luxury. I have a life. My eyes tell me that Nyheim Hines is a 4’8″ flex-capacitor of GIDDY UP, requiring only spatial distance and your trust in order to succeed… and also 1.21-gigawatts of power. I adore him so.  

DS: Every time you start to feel good about the 2020 Colts, they figuratively or literally run into a brick wall, like that 4th and Goal stop. I just can’t quite understand why this running game has never gotten on track this year, but it’s Game 9 and they’re still doing this. Toss the Run The Damn Ball hats in the White River with the BlueIndy cars already.

DR: And like clockwork, there’s Hines from the shotgun again—your favorite play, Schultz, and one I have shamelessly spammed countless Madden opponents with to similar success. If nothing else it’s been pretty exciting, as Nate pointed out, to watch this team play an actually competitive back-and-forth game like this. Still, lurking in the back of my mind is the memory of last week and that Chuck Clark fumble return TD. This team can’t afford a *single mistake*, and I’m dreading its arrival, although I should give them credit for having managed this well and avoided it so far despite the aforementioned brick-wall moments.

NM: That was some Widespread Panic bump music after the blocked punt, Schultz, is that Phish-y enough for you?? (It’s so very TITANS that their crowd hype noise is the “WOOOO WOOOO WOOOO” that, I believe, comes from the opening scenes of “Gladiator.” The Titans are replicating the battle cry of the Germanians—the ones who “didn’t know when they were conquered” and who got their shit wrecked from all sides by Maximus and his dog. Not a super-great battle-chant, Nashville folk. )

DS: The only thing Phish-y enough is Phish, Nate. Loving the bumps tonight. Also, HOLY CRAP, this game changed since my last e-mail. My son actually woke up right after that, and he’s in the “stay with me until I fall back asleep” phase, so I actually watched the Colts rattle off 14 straight points from a toddler twin bed. Unfortunately, being superstitious like a weirdo idiot, I’m now afraid to move from this spot.

DR: Is this the Colts-iest Colts game of this season? Out of nowhere, two Hines TDs, a punt block return TD, poor, under-appreciated Jacoby Brissett finally making something happen with a goal line rush; it all feels like Frank Reich’s Land of Chocolate-style ideal fantasy. You have to feel pretty good about the Colts’ chances to sweep both of these all-important games, right?

DS: This was the most Colts-Titans-iest game ever. Titans think they’re good, Titans jump out to early lead, Titans make hilarious mistake(s), Colts crush their hopes. Rinse and repeat. For whatever the reason, the Colts just have a mastery over them, especially in Nashville. Tonight’s win was Indy’s tenth in their last twelve there. They’re 20-4 against them since 2008. Insane. 

NM: I’m going to bed. Not for any other reason than this: it’s been a truly enjoyable night of football, and if shit goes sideways, I’d rather not be awake for it. We’ve gotten so few enjoyable nights of late as Colts fans, as Pacers fans, as fans of the great American experiment, that I’d rather go to bed happy and ignorant than informed and sad. Good on the Colts. Good on the Colts’ coaching staff. It’s a good night, and good nights are hard to come by of late. Everything is starting to feel normal again…which is somewhat disconcerting. Fare thee well, men.