The Indianapolis Colts entered their prime-time game Thursday needing a victory to maintain realistic playoff hopes.
They got it.
And if the game got closer than they might have liked after holding a three-touchdown lead, it didn't much matter as the Colts held on for a 30-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked three second-half field goals, and his 46-yarder with 2:55 remaining gave Indianapolis a nine-point lead.
Quarterback Peyton Manning tossed two first-half touchdowns and did not throw an interception after throwing 11 during a recent three-game Colts losing streak.
The victory kept the Colts (7-6) very much alive in the AFC South race. They now trail the Jacksonville Jaguars by a half-game, and if the Colts win their final three contests -- at home against Jacksonville, at Oakland and at home against Tennessee -- they will win the AFC South for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Some thoughts on the game:
• Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon had two first-half touchdowns and his biggest play may have been in the fourth quarter, turning a short pass on 2nd-and-10 from the Colts 25 into a 43-yard, catch-and-run that set up Vinatieri's late field goal.
• The Titans did a solid job containing the Colts' offense in the second half. After Manning led the Colts to three first-half touchdowns, the Titans limited the Colts to field goals in the second half.
• Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney made a crucial play early in the second quarter, forcing a fumble by Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt that linebacker Tyjuan Hagler recovered. The play led to a 59-yard scoring drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown reception by Garcon.
• Before Hagler's fumble recovery, the Colts had not had a turnover since forcing five in a 23-17 victory over Cincinnati. They had committed 12 turnovers and forced none during a three-game losing streak.
• Jacob Tamme started at tight end for the Colts with the following players inactive: WR Austin Collie, CB Kelvin Hayden, RB Joseph Addai, RB Mike Hart, LB Clint Session, OL Jacques McClendon, OT Jaimie Thomas and DT Ricardo Mathews.
• Colts LT Charlie Johnson sustained a shoulder injury late in the first half. He was replaced by rookie free agent Jeff Linkenbach and did not return.
• The Colts took a 7-0 lead with 2:04 remaining in the first quarter when rookie RB Javarris James scored on a 1-yard run. The play capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive. At that point, the Colts had a league-leading 31 touchdown drives of 10 or more plays this season.
• The Colts registered another 10-play drive on their next possession to take a 14-0 lead when Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown to Garcon.
• Garcon caught six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns; Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne had four receptions for 106 yards.
• Manning has thrown at least 25 touchdowns in each of his 13 seasons, the only player in NFL history to do so.
• At one point late in the first quarter, the Colts had run 22 plays compared to three for the Titans.
• When they didn't score in the first quarter, the Titans ran their streak of consecutive quarters without a touchdown to a franchise-record 14.
• The Titans avoided extending the streak to 15 when Titans running back Chris Johnson scored on a 1-yard run late in the second quarter. It was Johnson's 10th rushing touchdown of the season.
• A 39-yard run by Johnson in the fourth quarter was his longest since a 42-yard run against Dallas on Oct. 10. With the run, he went over 100 yards rushing for the seventh time this season and 23rd in his career.
• Manning completed 25 of 35 passes for 319 yards and the two touchdowns.
• Titans mistakes gave the Colts their advantage early. Not only did Britt's fumble set up one touchdown, but Garcon's second touchdown came on a 19-yard drive that began when Indianapolis recovered a fumbled punt snap.
• Britt started for the Titans at wide receiver after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury. He and Nate Washington started, with Randy Moss entering the game as a backup. Moss did not play until late in the first half. Moss has caught five passes for 62 yards as a Titan and did not catch a pass Thursday.
• Britt began to make an impact late in the first quarter, and had two receptions for 23 yards entering the second quarter.