INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Tennessee Titans are out of the playoff picture, but they have a chance to make their season special if they can end the Indianapolis Colts’ quest for a perfect record.

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher was a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears who went 15-1 in the regular season. He said people still talk about the team that ended the Bears’ unbeaten run at 12 wins: Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphins. Fisher would love to play spoiler today at the RCA Dome.

“It would have significance, obviously,” he said. “Whoever plays well enough to beat them before the playoffs will be recognized for many, many years, just like the Miami Dolphins were. Whoever can muster up enough plays and have a little luck and have a chance to beat them will set a mark in history.”

To pull the upset, the Titans (3-8) have to improve on recent performances against the Colts. Indianapolis has won the last five matchups by an average score of 35-17.

The Colts (11-0) beat the Titans 31-10 on Oct. 2 when Peyton Manning passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns and Edgerrin James ran for 90 yards on 21 carries. Indianapolis receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne rank in the top 10 in receptions and wide receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Dallas Clark are proven threats.

The balance makes stopping the Colts nearly impossible.

“We could probably hold Edge to 50 yards rushing, but we’ll give up 500 yards passing,” Fisher said. “We could probably stop the passing game, but then you’ll give up 200 or 300 yards rushing. That is the way they are.”

Indianapolis has added a fast, aggressive defense this season to complement its explosive offense. The Colts rank second in the league with 159 points allowed.

“I think this is the best defense we have had to date,” Colts coach Tony Dungy said. “We’re very active and we’re playing with confidence.”

The Titans could gamble often, much like they did the last time they came to Indianapolis. The Titans tried three onside kicks in the first quarter of a 51-24 loss last December. Fisher said he felt he was doing what was best for his team because of its lack of experience and depth in the secondary.

“It would only be a matter of plays before they had the ball on the 40-yard line anyway, so why not take a chance?” he said.

Dungy said the Titans’ defense has improved since.

“I think they are playing with a little more confidence than they were two months ago,” he said. “The guys know their assignments a little bit better. They are playing a little bit more man coverage and playing more aggressively and blitzing a little more. I think they feel confident that those guys can go out there and cover people.”

The Titans believe they are close to a breakthrough. They’ve lost six games by 10 points or less. They led Cincinnati on Oct. 16, but blew that with two turnovers late in the fourth quarter of a 31-23 loss. Tennessee then led Jacksonville 21-14 in the third quarter, but lost 31-28 two weeks ago.

“We definitely should have five or six wins right now, but we don’t,” Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “This thing is going to turn around. That’s what this league is about. You see teams, they have their ups and their downs, but they bounce back.”

Tennessee is coming off a 33-22 win over San Francisco. Manning said that is more important than where the Titans are in the standings.

“You ask most of the guys around here, they probably couldn’t tell you what anybody’s record is,” he said. “When you’re watching them on film, there’s no subtitle that says, This is what their record is.’ They won last week. I do take that into account. If you played well the week before, that’s a lot of momentum for a team.”

The Titans aren’t sure they’ll need to be flawless to put the first blemish on the Colts’ record.

“I don’t know if it’ll take a perfect game,” defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. “We need big plays from a lot of different guys, like we had last week. We can beat them. We can’t make mistakes. We can’t beat ourselves.”

AP-ES-12-01-05 1805EST


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