NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 3 Game Recap: Tennessee Titans 25, Indianapolis Colts 16

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws the ball during the third quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. Titans Colts 188

The Tennessee Titans relied on their run game to eat up clock and keep the offense in manageable situations, outlasting the Indianapolis Colts 25-16 at home in Week 3. Veteran quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz failed to get into a rhythm throughout, as Wentz was constantly pressured and Tannehill struggled with turnovers.

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Tennessee Titans


Tannehill’s day was all over the place for Tennessee, with two interceptions, three touchdowns and less than 200 yards through the air on his 31 dropbacks. Indianapolis’ defense, true to its identity, stayed deep in coverage and prevented Tennessee from finding the intermediate windows it typically thrives on, and Tannehill took advantage with a pair of scrambles for 45 yards.

Running Backs

Derrick Henry was the same bell cow back he’s always been on Sunday, and his tough running led to most of his production on the day. Just under two-thirds of his 113 rushing yards came after contact, and he forced five missed tackles by punishing run support players on the perimeter.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

A.J. Brown only had five receiving snaps on the day before leaving the contest with a hamstring injury. Losing his ability to work the intermediate area made Tennessee’s passing attack less effective. Tannehill tried to take some downfield shots to Julio Jones — two of his four targets were 20-plus yards downfield — but Indianapolis was able to shade coverage his way.

Receiving Snaps Targets Yards Per Route Run Target Share Per Receiving Snap
Julio Jones 17 4 2.76 23%
Nick Westbrook 25 4 2.12 16%
Geoff Swaim 11 4 2.45 36%
Offensive Line

David Quessenberry allowed the lone sack for Tennessee's front five, but the unit had little problem with protecting against Indianapolis. Sunday was about as much of an investment into pressure as you’ll see from Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, rushing more than four on 26% of Tannehill’s 31 dropbacks, and only two of those reps returned any pressure.

Pass Protection Snaps Pressures Allowed Knockdown Rate
4 or less rushers 23 4 9%
5 or more rushers 8 2 12%
Defensive Line

Harold Landry had a breakout performance against the struggling Colts’ OL with 10 pressures and a share of a sack. Three of his pressures came unblocked, speaking both to Tennessee’s ability to scheme open rushing lanes and Indianapolis’ inability to execute its pass protection rules.


Tennessee’s linebackers only allowed 18 yards on five combined targets, with none converted into a first down after the catch. David Long had three defensive stops — one was a tackle for loss — and added three pressures on Carson Wentz.


Dane Cruikshank spent most of the day in the middle of the field as a free safety, but when he was rotated down into the slot, Wentz wanted to go after him. He ended the day as the most targeted defensive back for Tennessee. His 71 yards were the most allowed of any defensive back on either team.

Indianapolis Colts


Carson Wentz‘s unwillingness to push the ball downfield continues to limit the ceiling of the offense, and his accuracy is an issue when he does, as evidenced by the difference in his average depth of target (7.0) and his yards per attempt (5.2).

Running Back

Frank Reich’s play-calling approach to the game on Sunday leaves some questions, leaning on the pass when it was clear Wentz was struggling to do much other than check the ball down. Jonathan Taylor tied for the team lead in touches (11), but his yard per carry average (6.4) suggests there were missed opportunities to feed the running back within the flow of a close game.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Running back Nyheim Hines was almost as productive as the team's top receiver, Michael Pittman Jr. Two of Pittman’s six receptions were explosive gains of more than 15 yards, and he still finished with only 68 receiving yards. That's not easy to do with an average depth of target over 10.0, demonstrating Wentz’s struggles to find his guys past the first down marker.

Offensive Line

The Colts failed again to keep their quarterback clean in the passing game, allowing 17 pressures up front. Eric Fisher was the worst of the unit with seven pressures surrendered in spite of Bud Dupree being unavailable. Mark Glowinski’s struggles weren’t exclusive to last week’s interior pass rush from the Rams, with four pressures allowed (one sack).

Defensive Line

Kwity Paye left the game early with a hamstring injury and didn’t return, and the Colts' lack the depth or top-shelf edge talent forced Matt Eberflus to commit to blitzing in order to manufacture pressure. DeForest Buckner generated as much pressure (4) as all Colts edge rushers combined.

Pass Rush Snaps Pressures
DeForest Buckner 24 4
All other Colts DL 96 (combined) 5

Darius Leonard showed well as a second-level defender in a scheme that almost always asks him to defend the run from depth (not blitzing). He came up with three defensive stops in 34 opportunities against the run, with an average depth of tackle below three yards. He’ll end up on Derrick Henry’s highlight tapes after being trucked on a screen, but he was able to intercept a poorly thrown pass from Tannehill early in the contest.


Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has long been past his best years in coverage, and he allowed the most yards of the Colts secondary over his 27 snaps (69). All four of his targets were converted into first downs or touchdowns, and Tannehill had a perfect 158.3 passer rating going after Rhodes. He was the only Colts defensive back to allow receptions of 15-plus yards.

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