INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck and Adam Vinatieri are at it again.
The rookie quarterback led the Colts back from a 13-point second-half deficit Sunday, and the veteran kicker made a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give Indianapolis the lead and a 40-yarder a little later to seal a 27-23 victory over Tennessee.
Luck has now engineered six fourth-quarter comebacks this season, and Indy (9-4) is 8-1 in one-possession games. And Vinatieri, long considered the best clutch kicker in league history, delivered again as the surprising Colts moved a step closer to making the playoffs with coach Chuck Pagano watching his third straight game from inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Tennessee (4-9) dropped to 0-5 all-time at Lucas Oil Stadium and wasted a brilliant first-half performance from Jake Locker.
Luck certainly did his part Sunday. He went 16 of 34 for 196 yards and one touchdown. And despite throwing two interceptions, he broke Peyton Manning’s franchise record for yards passing by a rookie. Luck now has 3,792 yards, the second most by a rookie in league history behind only Cam Newton (4,051).
Reggie Wayne caught six passes for 64 yards and Indy’s first score, a 4-yard TD catch in the first half, and he passed Andre Reed for 10th on the league’s career receptions list. Reed had 951. Wayne now has 956.
And Vick Ballard ran for a season-high 94 yards.
It was the way Indy opened the second half that changed the game.
Luck led the Colts on a methodical 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run from Delone Carter, closing the halftime deficit to 20-14 midway through the third quarter.
But it wasn’t just Luck and the offense.
After Pat McAfee sent a 52-yard punt out of bounds at the Titans 1, Cassius Vaughn jumped in front of Nate Washington, picking off Locker’s pass and diving in from 3 yards out to give Indy a 21-20 lead with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
Tennessee answered with a 16-play drive that consumed 10 minutes, 8 seconds, but wound up settling for a 25-yard field goal from Rob Bironas. That gave Tennessee a 23-21 lead with 10:28 to play.
Luck then led the Colts back down the field, setting up Vinatieri’s 53-yarder, which he knocked right down the middle with 6:23 to go.
And after Locker was picked off by Darius Butler, Vinatieri made the 40-yarder.
Tennessee had one last chance, but after picking up a first down at the Colts 30, Locker rushed to the line of scrimmage and ran a quarterback sneak for no yards on first down. Three plays later, the Titans punted the ball on fourth-and-10 and never got the ball back.
Locker was 22 of 35 for 262 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Kenny Britt had a season-high 143 yards on eight catches, and Chris Johnson ran 19 times for 44 yards.