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Colts take down Titans 23-16, but Richardson injury looms large

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - OCTOBER 08: Gardner Minshew #10 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Colts lost the last five games against their AFC South rival Tennessee coming into this afternoon.

The team also lost 7 straight games inside Lucas Oil Stadium, dating back to last year.

Both of those streaks were snapped on Sunday as the Colts defeated the Titans 23-16.

However, the bigger story took place near the end of the first half.

Anthony Richardson took a hard hit by Tennessee linebacker Harold Landry in the second quarter and was later ruled out for the rest of the game.

Richardson was forced to leave with a right shoulder injury, heading to the locker room and later being ruled out after halftime.

Backup quarterback Garnder Minshew entered the game for the Colts.

Richardson was playing well before his exit, completing 9 of his 12 passes for 98 yards en route to a 10-6 lead before leaving the game.

He only carried the ball twice, with the latter resulting in the shoulder injury.

In relief, Minshew led the offense admirably.

The free-agent signee came in and immediately took the offense down the field, but eventually turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass at the goal line.

That made the score 10-6 heading into the locker room.

Then, the two teams traded touchdowns and field goals to make the score 20-16 near the start of the fourth quarter.

The Colts defense went into bend-don’t-break mode, allowing quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Titans to execute a 9-play, 70-yard drive that set up a 4th down and 1 at the Indianapolis 5-yard line.

All-world running back Derrick Henry has been picking up 4th and shorts for his entire career.

But this time, the 6’3 245 pound bruiser was stopped by linebacker Zaire Franklin and defensive end DeForest Buckner to turn the ball over on downs.

Minshew and the offense ran a 14-play, 84-yard drive that took over 7 minutes of time off the clock, ending in a Matt Gay 28-yard field goal to put the score at 23-16 with a minute left.

That’s where the score would stay after Indy’s defense stepped up, and safety Julian Blackman intercepted Tannehill to end the game.

“When you have a dynamic player like [Anthony Richardson], one of his skillsets is a runner that makes him really good. The designed run that he got hurt on, we ran something similar last week where he popped it for big one,” Colts head coach Shane Steichen said. “That’s stuff that you have to look at and be smart with, it’s part of the game but you don’t want it to happen.”

“Obviously this is Anthony [Richardson’s] team and it’s going to be.” Backup quarterback Garnder Minshew said. “I am very excited for him. Unfortunately he keeps having these issues but he is playing great.”

Minshew later added, ” I am grateful for every opportunity I get.”

“The [offensive line] did a great job,” running back Zack Moss said. “We had to be physical and we had to be able to run the ball on this front. The offensive line did a great job dominating and giving us space.”

Jonathan Taylor played in his first game since December of last year, but received limited work on a snap count as the Colts slowly ease him back into the lineup.

“It felt great getting hit,” Taylor said. “Just trying to get my feet wet, get back into it. The NFL is a physical game so being able to work back in felt great.”

Box Score

Garnder Minshew completed 11 of his 14 passes for 155 yards

Running back Zack Moss had 23 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns, adding two catches for 30 yards

Jonathan Taylor added 6 carries for 18 yards in his return from injury

Meanwhile, rookie wide receiver Josh Downs caught 6 balls for 97 yards

Michael Pittman had 5 receptions for 52 yards

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill completed 23 of 34 passes for 264 yards and 1 interception

Derrick Henry took 13 carries for just 43 yards

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