The Indianapolis Colts (9-4, 3-1 AFC South) are setting a dangerous precedent. Well, sort of.
Eight of the Colts' nine victories have come by seven points or less. The good: They're winning. The bad, however, has been apparent in the last few outings, including Sunday's 27-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans (4-9, 0-5 AFC South) in Indianapolis.
The Colts have proven themselves to be slow starters, a quality not becoming of a team that wishes to make a playoff run. Indy fell behind the Titans 20-7 at halftime, and if not for a mental lapse from Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker, the Colts may not have come away victorious.
Backed up near their own end zone, the Titans chose to run a quick stop on first down. It did not work. Cassius Vaughn read the play beautifully and picked off the pass, walking in for a score. The touchdown gave the Colts the lead, and though the Titans fought back, they were never able to wrest back control of the game.
When the game turned: The Cassius Vaughn interception for a score was huge. At that point, the Titans had everything working and the Colts could not find an answer for Locker. Locker wasn't quite the same after this play, and Indy capitalized.
Highlight moment: Rarely is a 3-yard touchdown any sort of highlight -- and, frankly, this one wasn't all that impressive -- but Vaughn's interception return in the third quarter was undoubtedly the game's biggest play. Vaughn has been thrust into action because of numerous injuries in the defensive backfield, and he hasn't been, let's say, the best cover corner. But his play Sunday certainly won the game, and it could be remembered as the play that vaulted the Colts into the playoffs.
- Colts CB Cassius Vaughn: 8 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD
- Titans WR Kenny Britt: 8 catches, 143 yards
- Colts RB Vick Ballard: 19 carries, 94 yards
What they said about Luck's 2nd-and-10 completion to TE Dwayne Allen -- his third option -- which went for a first down and effectively sealed the game:
- Colts interim coach Bruce Arians: “It's a matter of trust. I really thought we'd have Reggie [Wayne] on the curl and they doubled it, and he came right back to Dwayne -- and Dwayne made a great play and stretched it and made the first down. The first down was going to be the game. At that point in time, I didn't have a lot of confidence that we could run it two more times because Vick [Ballard] was so beat up. He had a stinger earlier in an earlier drive and I was afraid of the ball popping out. So I was going to get that first down and kneel. I didn't want to put our defense back out there in that situation.”
- Allen: “He's not afraid to win the game. I think he showed that the first time we played the Titans, when we took the ball right off the bat and marched right down the field. He noticed a tendency of ours to run out of that formation and decided to take a chance to throw a pass. We did and we completed that and the game was over.”
- Luck: “I like every call that B.A. [Arians] puts in, especially ones that ice the game. They did a very good job of covering the first two guys. I was very surprised. I thought I would catch them napping. Dwayne did a good job. He's such a big, strong, athletic target, great catch radius. He made a great catch with a linebacker on his body up high, potentially sealed the game.”
Numbers you should know: Andrew Luck became the most prolific rookie passer in Colts history, surpassing Peyton Manning. Luck has thrown for 3,596 yards this season. And Cam Newton is next. Luck needs 456 passing yards to break Newton's record for most yards in a season for a rookie.
Injury update: Several players left the game for the Colts. Tight end Coby Fleener had his ankle rolled up on early in the game, but he was able to return. Linebacker Kavell Conner left with an injured hamstring, fullback Robert Hughes with a knee, running back Delone Carter with an ankle, offensive tackle Winston Justice with an injury to his biceps, and center Samson Satele with an ankle injury.
Going forward: Titans -- The Titans, who are strictly playing for pride, will face the Jets Monday, much to the chagrin of ESPN (unless Tebow starts). The Titans then head north to face Green Bay. Colts -- Indianapolis will play its first of two against the Texans on Sunday in Houston, before heading to Kansas City to play the Chiefs and coming back home for its finale with the Texans.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Colts blogger Evan Hilbert, follow @CBSColts.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Tennessee Titans, follow Matt Rybaltowski @CBSTitans.