NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee Titans can add how to protect a lead in the fourth quarter to the list of lessons they are trying to learn.
The Titans scored 27 straight points in leading the two-time defending AFC South champion Colts 27-14 in the fourth quarter Sunday only to lose 35-33 as Andrew Luck rallied Indianapolis yet again.
Cornerback Perrish Cox said the Titans talked about not being too happy or surprised at leading the Colts. Some teammates on the sideline didn't listen closely enough.
"You could tell there was a lot of laughter, a lot of dancing around," Cox said. "We just need to stop doing that and finish the game. But against a quarterback like Andrew Luck, against a team like the Colts, we know what they're capable of, and they came out and showed it."
Now the Titans (1-2) have an extra week to stew over this loss going into their bye. They have lost 13 of 14 to the Colts with the previous win Oct. 30, 2011.
This loss overshadowed another strong performance by Mariota who set the franchise record for a rookie quarterback in throwing for 367 yards. Mariota also threw two more TDs in tying Mark Rypien for the most touchdown passes (eight) in a player's first three career games.
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn't sure how he was feeling after a tough loss.
"We just got to finish these games, and I believe we're going to do that," Whisenhunt said. "We're getting a lot closer."
The Titans held the ball for a second shy of 35 minutes and outgained the Colts 433-378. They sacked Luck three times and picked him off twice within 3 minutes in the third quarter. But they managed only 10 points off those turnovers.
The Colts sacked Mariota three times, and Dwight Lowery got the first two interceptions off the No. 2 pick overall out of Oregon, including a 69-yard return for a TD off the first.
They also had Luck, who improved to 7-0 against Tennessee after another stunning comeback.
He drove the Colts 98 yards before hitting Phillip Dorsett on a 35-yard TD with 6:49 left to make it 27-21. After Lowery's second interception, Luck found Donte Moncrief on the next play for an 11-yard TD giving the Colts a 28-27 lead. Frank Gore added his second TD with 2:51 left for the winning margin.
Mariota drove the Titans down the field, and rookie fullback Jalston Fowler ran for a 1-yard TD to make it 35-33 with the chance to tie the game inside the final minute.
Defensive pass interference put the ball at the 1 for a closer chance at the 2-point conversion, but Fowler was stopped for a big loss.
Tennessee's onside kick went out of bounds, allowing the Colts to kneel down for their first win after a rocky start for a team that was in the AFC championship game last season.
"This one was one for the ages, as far as I'm concerned," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon, couldn't remember the previous time he lost consecutive games.
"It's been a while for sure," Mariota said.
Notes: Colts linebacker Robert Mathis got his first sack since an Achilles tendon injury wiped out his 2014 season. He sacked Mariota on the first play of the Titans' final drive. "It felt awesome," Mathis said. "It's been over a year, so it felt very great. Even better to come out with a victory." ... Titans LT Taylor Lewan left the game briefly with an injured left shoulder but returned.
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