INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Adam Vinatieri’s reliable right foot put Indianapolis on the verge of another playoff appearance.
The best clutch kicker in NFL history tied his career high with five field goals, including a 49-yarder to give the Colts the lead for good late in the third quarter, and surprise starter Donald Brown scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left for a 22-14 victory over Tennessee on Sunday.
Indy (8-4) now has a three-game lead in the division race with four to play and owns the first tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep of the Titans (5-7). The Colts can wrap up their eighth division crown in 11 seasons with one more win, one more Titans loss or a tie by either team.
No, it hasn’t been easy getting to this point and it wasn’t again Sunday. But Vinatieri bailed out the Colts, also tying his career high for field goals in a half (four) and equaling Jason Elam’s NFL record for 100-point seasons (16).
Without him, the Colts might be lamenting their first back-to-back losses since December 2011.
Instead, they were celebrating a renaissance of sorts. The league’s oldest kicker also made field goals of 47, 48, 45 and 37 yards, and the Colts defense, which was so good early in the season, forced four turnovers on a day the offense struggled yet again.
Andrew Luck finished 17 of 32 for 200 yards with no TDs and one interception. Brown, who wrested the starting job from Trent Richardson, ran 14 times for 54 yards, and the Colts finished with only 264 yards in offense.