Colts get TDs from 2 QBs, finish 8-8
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts used their tag-team quarterbacks perfectly Sunday.
Josh Freeman ran the regular offense, Ryan Lindley the two-minute drill.
Together, they played well enough to win. They just couldn’t get the Colts into the playoffs by themselves.
Recently signed Freeman and Lindley each threw one first-half touchdown pass, and a third-quarter defensive score gave Indy all the scoring it needed to beat Tennessee 30-24. But the Colts needed a lot more than a win to save their season – and perhaps their coach’s job.
They needed a Houston loss and seven other games to go exactly right. When Houston beat Jacksonville 30-6, the Colts’ fate was sealed.
Now the Colts play a different kind of waiting game.
After months of speculation about coach Chuck Pagano’s future, team owner Jim Irsay will decide whether to bring his coach back.
Pagano is 41-23 in four seasons with the Colts, made the playoffs each of his first three years, and won division titles in 2013 and 2014. Indy reached last season’s AFC championship game.
Pagano also captivated the football world as he battled leukemia during the 2012 season.
But his contract is expiring.
He may have done his most creative coaching the last two weeks when Indy (8-8) needed four quarterbacks to win both times.
This week was unlike anything Pagano had experienced. With his top three quarterbacks injured, the Colts signed Freeman and Lindley on Tuesday, immediately split up the duties and then plugged them into action Sunday.
Freeman finished 15 of 28 with 149 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Lindley was 6 of 10 for 58 yards in two cameos and threw an 18-yard TD pass with 13 seconds left in the first half for a 20-14 lead it never relinquished.
For Tennessee (3-13), things were even tougher as Titans secured the No. 1 overall draft pick.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger left in the third quarter with a forearm injury after Jerrell Freeman picked off a screen pass and returned it 23 yards to make it 27-14. Mettenberger, 0-10 as a starter, was 5 of 13 for 38 yards with no touchdowns, ran for one TD and threw an interception.
Alex Tanney, who spent most of the season on Indy’s practice squad, finished the game and threw a TD pass.
Delanie Walker caught nine passes for 94 yards and became the first tight end in Titans history to top the 1,000-yard mark, and the ninth tight end in NFL history to catch at least 90 passes in a season.
Tennessee finished its season with four straight losses and its ninth in a row to Indianapolis.
The biggest surprise was how well Josh Freeman played after spending more than two years out of the league. He led the Colts to a 49-yard field goal on their opening drive and hooked up with Coby Fleener on a 57-yard TD pass for a 10-7 lead.
Then, trailing 14-13, Lindley entered. He took the Colts right downfield, too, finding Andre Johnson, who stretched the ball across the goal line to give Indy a 20-14 halftime lead.
Da’Norris Searcy’s interception set up Mettenberger’s 5-yard first-quarter TD run. Tennessee made it 14-10 when David Cobb scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
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