INDIANAPOLIS – The reminder stares back at Frank Reich as he scans his playcard: Conviction.
“It’s been there a couple of years,’’ he said Thursday night on a Zoom conference call from Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
It was put to the test more than once in what was a pivotal game for his Indianapolis Colts. Trust yourself. Trust your players.
The Colts pulled even with the Tennessee Titans atop the AFC South with a 34-17 victory, but it required remaining aggressive and confident as the game unfolded.
It required conviction.
“It’s for me, personally a reminder to me to play with conviction, to call plays with conviction, and to have conviction in what we’re doing, have conviction in who we’re doing it with,’’ Reich said. “You can’t flinch.
“You have to have confidence and conviction in the call and in the players executing.’’
Reich’s aggressive approach was evident early and apparent throughout. With the Philip Rivers-led offense converting a poor 4-of-12 third-down situations, he opted to go for it on fourth-and-short five times. Indy was a so-so 3-of-5.
“We’ve got to be better than that honesty in a game like this,’’ Reich said. “We got stopped on a couple drives, some short-yardage running there that (I) was not happy about from both a coaching and playing standpoint . . . we’ll get that cleaned up.
“But just felt like we needed to be aggressive. I know coach (Mike) Vrabel. This is just one of those games. There is a lot on the line in this game and had to be aggressive in all three phases.’’
As it turns out, none of the fourth-down attempts resulted in anything positive, other than to reaffirm Reich’s willingness to roll the dice.
On Indy’s opening drive, Jonathan Taylor kept things alive by converting a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard run to the Colts’ 47, but Jordan Wilkins was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Titans 29.
The Colts mounted a 15-play, 73-yard drive to open the third quarter, and a pair of fourth-down conversions kept it going – Rivers’ 9-yard pass to Zach Pascal on fourth-and-2 and Taylor’s 2-yard run on fourth-and-1.
But after Taylor was stopped for no gain on third-and-goal at the 1, Wilkins was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-goal.
Al-Quadin Muhammad wasn’t around for the end of the game. The veteran defensive end was ejected with less than 3 minutes remaining for throwing a punch to the helmet of Titans’ offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo.
Reich didn’t see the play, and didn’t need to after talking with an official.
“We certainly don’t condone that or like that happening,’’ he said.
Nickel cornerback Kenny Moore II suffered a rib injury during the game. The team won’t know the extent of the injury until he undergoes a magnetic resonance imaging test.
This and that
Linebacker Darius Leonard led the defense with nine tackles. Safety Khari Willis added eight, including five solos. . . . End Denico Autry had the lone sack of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and it was a big one. It came on third-and-1 on the Titans’ first possession of the third quarter. Tennessee led 17-13 at the time.