|It's must win for Colts to stay alive in AFC South|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 23 October 2008 13:06|
The Tennessee Titans clinched the AFC's final playoff berth by winning the last game of 2007 in Indianapolis with a bit of charity from the Colts, who pulled starters early, comfortable with a first-round bye and a fifth straight division title secured after a 7-0 start.
Now the Titans (6-0) are the NFL's last undefeated team, and the Colts (3-3) visit Tennessee on Monday night desperately needing a win to remain viable for a sixth divisional title. Lose, and Indianapolis - the team that has lead or shared the lead for this division in 95 of its 109 weeks of existence - falls four back in the loss column with nine games left.
``We've been in this situation before with the shoe on the other foot where we played Tennessee or Jacksonville with a two- or three-game lead and saying, `Hey, we can slam the door on them,''' Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
ng to his team. They have a chance to slam the door on us, and that's the way we're looking at it. The season won't be over if we don't get a win, and obviously wild-card teams have won the Super Bowl two out of the last three years. It's certainly not a season-ending game. In terms of winning the division, I think that's the reality of it.''
The Titans are the only team other than Indianapolis to win this division, taking the AFC South in 2002 and losing a tiebreaker to the Colts in 2003. A franchise that lost seven straight to Indianapolis between 2002 and 2006 knows what a chance it has now.
``It's a chance for us to take a step forward and take over the division,'' Titans center Kevin Mawae said.
Fisher, who can join Tom Landry and Don Shula as the only coaches to start 7-0 in their 15th seasons or later with a win, calls the Colts still the team to beat.
``We're just fortunate that we've gotten off to a good start and have an opportunity to play them,'' Fisher said.
Not a chance to make a statement?
``This is just the next game on our schedule,'' Fisher said. ``And we're going to do everything we can to play the best we can, and we'll just see what happens.''
``They're still trying to find their rhythm, and hopefully they won't get on sync against us,'' Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
The Colts are walking into a Music City party. The Titans haven't played a nationally televised game on a Monday since Dec. 13, 2004, and they are giving out 68,000 T-shirts to fans at the game in a promotion called ``Code Blue.'' The end zones will be painted light blue, with the Titans choosing to wear their light blue pants with the matching jerseys.
This game has been the talk of the town since Tennessee beat Kansas City 34-10 last week to remain undefeated. Defensive end Jevon Kearse said the Titans aren't immune to the buzz.
``A chance to go 7-0, a chance to go out and accomplish a whole lot and show the world that we're for real,'' Kearse said. ``A lot of people still haven't given us credit out there. They think we've only been playing teams with losing records and so on. A chance to go out and do it in prime time is going to be big.''
The Titans started turning this divisional rivalry in December 2006 with a 60-yard field goal by Rob Bironas, and have won two of the last three games.
stretch since 1980, by the 1990-91 San Francisco 49ers.
The Colts likely will be without safety Bob Sanders because of his knee injury for a fifth straight game, and they are giving up 153.5 yards rushing without last year's Defensive Player of the Year. That's not good with the Titans coming off a franchise-record 332 yards rushing against Kansas City.
Manning had two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Green Bay. He has only eight TD passes with seven interceptions, and he will be going against a defense that has picked off 10 passes. The Colts also may be without Joseph Addai (hamstring) for a second straight game.
``We're well aware of the situation,'' Manning said.
The Colts have to stop hurting themselves after being flagged for 23 penalties over the past two games. Defensive lineman Raheem Brock said they have to correct those mistakes, and being familiar with the Titans helps.
``But they know us pretty well, too, so it will be a tough division game,'' he said.
Especially with what a win does for Tennessee.
``It'd put us sitting pretty,'' Bulluck said.