Last week, the Tennessee Titans ended one tenure of failure, stopping a seven-game losing streak to Tom Brady that spanned nearly 16 years.
This week, the Titans get to try and end a skid that hits a little closer to home. Tennessee is 0-9 all-time against Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck is back this season after missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury, and not surprisingly, the Titans picked up two divisional wins a year ago with Luck on the sideline.
Coach Mike Vrabel, who will be facing Luck for the first time as an NFL head coach, made sure to remind his team of their futility over the years against the Colts star quarterback, hoping to bring that to an end Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We talked about it this morning. We talked about how well they’re playing, and the fact that they’ve won three games in a row, outscoring opponents, I think, in that time 100-something to 39.,” Vrabel said. “29 points a game, everything they’ve done, the amount of turnovers they’ve created, how good they are in third down. Quarterback has only been hit nine times in four games. Some quarterbacks get hit nine times in a game, or a half. They are really protecting him.
“He never stares at a rusher, ever. His eyes are downfield. Some of those, where he used to scramble, he’s stepping up and he’s still looking for guys. So, he’s extending plays, but he’s extending them to throw, and that really is creating a lot of conversions for them on third down. Then after all that stuff, he’s never lost to the Titans. They hopefully were very aware of the success that he’s had against this organization.”
Titans players who have been around for any length of time know all too well of their frustrations in trying to get the better of Luck.
“He’s a baller. I’ve been playing that guy since college. He’s not going to give up no matter what the situation is, no matter what the score is in a game. He’s going to continue to fight,” defensive end Jurrell Casey said.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo, who some say may have delivered the hit that initially caused Luck's shoulder problems back in 2015, said the Titans have no one to blame but themselves for Luck's continued success against them.
“We’ve heard that numerous times. We’ve had our chances, but really it’s our fault, because we had our opportunities and we let him go toward the end of the game,” Orakpo said. “We have to take accountability in all of that. We definitely have to take note of that. We obviously don’t like that, but we have to do something about it.”
He sees the pre-injury style Luck out there leading the Colts from what he has seen during Indy's three-game winning streak that has them 4-5 overall.
“Luck is back. Luck is back and in full effect and we have be prepared for Luck to do his thing, like he’s been doing for them on this streak they’re on. Luck is a tough quarterback and he’s back playing at a high level. Their record proves it on the streak they’re on right now,” Orakpo said.
Beyond just the satisfaction of getting the Luck monkey of their back, the game is paramount for both the Titans and the Colts, who are trying to chase down the division-leading Houston Texans and also stay in the AFC wild-card race as well.
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard said the thing about Luck that may be the hardest to defend is the quarterback's confidence and belief that his team is never out of a game.