INDIANAPOLIS — With the Titans treating Sunday’s 23-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts like a preseason outing, it gave plenty of backups the chance to play much more than expected.
The most notable of those backups, of course, was quarterback Vince Young, who had played in just one other game — mop-up duty in Detroit — after being injured and losing his starting job after the season opener.
Young replaced Kerry Collins after the first offensive series for the Titans, who had the football for just 4:15 of the first half. Collins was originally supposed to play a second series, but after Indianapolis scored twice, then recovered an onside kick, keeping the Titans offense on the sideline, Young was under center when Tennessee’s offense finally returned for its second series with just over 10 minutes to play before halftime.
Young completed 9 of 13 passes, but threw for just 55 yards. Young's 13-yard pass to Brandon Jones was the Titans' longest completion of the day.
“I’d say the first series I was a little rusty getting into the rhythm of the game, but after that it started to slow down,” Young said. “It felt good to get in there and get that rush. I got hit bad one time, but it was good to get hit like that.”
Young was referring to a hard bump out of bounds from the Colts’ Jamie Silva after a scramble. He finished with 25 yards rushing on five attempts.
“I just wanted to be loose. I told the guys earlier that my body feels real good,” Young said. “I told the guys earlier that I didn’t want to force anything and throw any interceptions, so I was checking the ball down and using my legs. Overall, I thought I did a pretty good job of getting the ball out and moving around. We didn’t really have too much in the offense today, but I think I did all right just to get back in my rhythm.”
GLAD TO BE BACK: One Titans player who was perhaps most thankful to be back playing was third-string quarterback Chris Simms, who played the final offensive series, his first regular-season action since suffering a ruptured spleen while with Tampa Bay in September 2006.
“It was just good to get some action and get some of the anxiousness away. I’m just happy to get anything I can get,” Simms said.
Simms completed 1 of 2 passes for 7 yards and was sacked once for a 10-yard loss.
“It was good to get hit again. It made me feel alive again. It wasn’t that bad,” he said of the sack.
The Titans wanted Simms to get another offensive series and called timeout late on defense, but Indianapolis running back Lance Ball converted the third-down run and the Colts ran the clock out.
“That’s why Coach [Jeff] Fisher called timeout, they were going to try to do the two-minute, but then they ended up getting the first down and that was that,” Simms said. “I’m just glad to be out there again and feeling good and being on a team that’s successful.”
FIRST ONE: The player on the receiving end of Simms’ one completion also had a milestone of sorts. It was wide receiver Paul Williams, who caught the pass for a first down and was his first NFL catch after two years in the league.
Williams was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie and was active for only the fifth time this season, seeing his most extensive action in the offense Sunday as the Titans played backups.
“It definitely feels great to get out there and be a part of it. Too bad I was part of a loss, but just to be a part of the team feels real good,” Williams said.
INJURIES: The Titans’ plan for Sunday was to escape the game injury-free, and they were able to do that, for the most part, except for one player.
Linebacker Josh Stamer, normally a special teams player, got the start in David Thornton’s spot Sunday, but made an early exit as he suffered a groin injury.
“We came through this somewhat healthy. The only concern I have right now is Josh Stamer. We’re going to have to do some tests,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
When Stamer exited, Keith Bulluck came back into the game and played a series or two until the Titans put all their backups in.
“We got down a man, and we were kind of hurting at the position, so it didn’t hurt me to go back in for a quarter,” Bulluck said. “I actually told [Fisher] to let me go back in.”
MILESTONES: While the game didn’t affect playoff seeding, the Colts managed to realize some of its goals in addition to winning the game.
The Colts became the first team in NFL history to win at least 12 games for six straight seasons and now have won nine in a row for the third time in the past four years.
Individually, Peyton Manning’s 95 yards passing gave him 4,002 for the season, the ninth straight season he has reached the 4,000-yard plateau.
Also, Marvin Harrison caught the 1,102nd pass of his NFL career on Sunday, pushing him past Cris Carter for second place all-time in league annals. He trails only Jerry Rice.