Colts avoid making the wrong kind of history

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Colts avoid making the wrong kind of history

From Comcast SportsNet

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)The Indianapolis Colts piled up wins for more than a decade. Their victory Sunday might go down as one of their most memorable.

After 14 straight losses, 50 weeks without a win and 14 years between non-Peyton Manning victories, the Colts dont have to worry about 0-16 anymore. Theyre 1-13.

Dan Orlovsky threw a touchdown pass and had the key block to spring an 80-yard touchdown run that sealed Indianapolis 27-13 victory over Tennessee, giving Orlovsky the first win of his NFL career.

To finally get one, and in the aspect of a lot of certain situations, it feels great, Orlovsky said. Im very humbled to be a part of it. Im happy for a lot of people on this team, for a lot of people in this organization. It is a lot better than the feeling we have had lately.

And for a change, the Colts had plenty to smile about.

Orlovsky had lost his nine previous NFL starts including the season-finale in Detroits 0-16 season. Hes the first quarterback not named Manning to win a game for the Colts since December 1997 when Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback.

Brown ran 16 times for a career-high 161 yards, tying Tom Mattes franchise record for longest run, set in 1964. The breakout performance might also temporarily quiet some of Browns biggest critics, who have labeled him a first-round draft bust.

Indys much-maligned defense forced three turnovers, scored a touchdown on Jacob Laceys 32-yard interception return and stopped Tennessee (7-7) on fourth down with less than 2 minutes left so Orlovsky could run out the clock with the traditional kneel-down.

Even coach Jim Caldwell got some support.

I just want to say how happy I am for Coach Caldwell, our coaching staff and for our players for how diligently and spectacularly theyve worked and prepared through all this difficulty, team vice chairman Bill Polian said.

But the celebration was muted. After the last defensive stop, Indys players and coaches simply raised their arms as the remaining fans cheered loudly.

The good news was that Colts avoided becoming the first team in franchise history to go 0-14.

The bad news: Theyre still playing for the No. 1 draft pick, which goes to the team with the worst overall record and will have to do it without Manning. Polian ruled him out of the last two games just minutes after the victory.

It (winning) means a lot, but were a proud ballclub so one game out of 13 or 14, we still have a ways to go, defensive end Robert Mathis said. Everybody held the fort today. We just kept chopping wood and the tree fell today.

For Tennessee, its an inexplicable loss that could keep them out of the playoffs.

By closing the season with three straight wins, the Titans could have controlled their own destiny. Now, theyll probably have to win their last two and get help.

In the first half, we played uninspired football on the offensive side of the ball and we still had a 6-3 lead because the defense played very well, Titans coach Mike Munchak said. You have to run the football and we couldnt. Not only could we not run it, we were losing yards and that put us in a tough spot. The turnovers start creeping in and (Jared) Cook fumbles the one that couldve been the chance to get something going then the interception happened. Thats really what killed us.

There were plenty of other problems, too.

Matt Hasselbeck returned from his calf injury but didnt play well, finishing 27 of 40 for 223 yards with no TDs and two interceptions. Chris Johnson ran 15 times for 55 yards. And when Jake Locker got the Titans back in the game after relieving Hasselbeck, the defense couldnt corral Brown.

Lockers 7-yard TD pass to Nate Washington with 3:43 left got the Titans to 20-13.

But on Indys next offensive play, Tennessees defense appeared to have Brown cornered in the backfield. Thats when Brown reversed field and Orlovsky jumped in front of the defender closest to him, running a basketball pick. It was just enough to get Brown a wide-open lane, and he sprinted right through it 80 yards for Indys longest run since Matte in 1964.

He was about to go down. Akeem Ayers came in there for the tackle. Donald just got out of it. I went in for the tackle, and the quarterback cut me off, safety Michael Griffin said. From there I dont know what happened, but we have to tackle better.

Indy opened the scoring with a 47-yard field goal that ended a of more than 500 minutes in which the Colts never had the lead

Rob Bironas answered with two field goals before halftime to give the Titans the 6-3 lead.

This time, Indy needed only about 10 minutes to retake the lead. Orlovskys 18-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne made it 10-6. Lacey followed that with his interception return and Vinatieri made it 20-6 after Indy forced a punt following a muffed kickoff that went out of bounds inside the 1.

Lockers TD put the game back in doubt, but Brown wrapped it up with the long run.

You just feel like a dark cloud has been removed for the time being, of course, the excited Mathis said. Back to work Tuesday, trying to do it again.

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.