Titans lose Mariota, Pees before falling to Colts in 38-10 blowout



The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel grabbed the headset and adjusted to calling the defensive plays as quickly as he could Sunday.

Andrew Luck kept the Titans off-balance the rest of the afternoon.

On a day quarterback Marcus Mariota left with an injured right elbow, the biggest question coming out the game was the health of defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who was taken to a nearby hospital during the first quarter.

“Dean’s doing OK. They took him to the hospital, they evaluated him, and they’re going to keep him overnight for some tests,” Vrabel said following the 38-10 blowout at Indianapolis. “Everything that I’ve heard as of now has been very positive.”

Without Pees, the Titans’ usually strong defense didn’t look like itself.

Tennessee (5-5) entered the game with the league’s lowest-scoring defense, the fewest touchdowns allowed and back-to-back second-half shutouts.

This time, Luck carved up the Titans, going 23-of-29 with 297 yards for three touchdown passes and no interceptions, and avoided being sacked in his fifth straight game.

The Colts jumped to a 24-0 lead, Luck improved to 10-0 against Tennessee and threw at least three TD passes in his seventh straight game, tying Dan Marino for the third-longest streak in NFL history. Only Tom Brady (10) and Peyton Manning (eight) remain ahead of Luck.

How much Pees’ absence affected the Titans wasn’t immediately clear. But after forcing a punt on Indy’s first series, it was a struggle to even slow down the Colts (5-5).

Pees managed to walk out of the coaches’ box without help, but the medical workers who had been called for assistance asked the 69-year-old to sit in a wheelchair to take him downstairs for further examination. The team issued a statement just before halftime saying Pees had been transported from Lucas Oil Stadium after he developed a “medical issue.”

Vrabel declined to answer what prompted the call for emergency personnel, nor did he have an update about Mariota, who missed Week 2 with a right elbow injury before returning in relief in Week 3. Mariota finished 10-of-13 with 85 yards and one interception before leaving the game after the Saint Louis School graduate was sacked for the fourth time.

Blaine Gabbert replaced Mariota and was 11-of-16 with 118 yards, one TD, one interception and one sack.

Now the looming question is whether Mariota can return for next Monday’s crucial showdown at AFC South leader Houston?

“I’ll address the injuries tomorrow when I have some more information,” a stressed Vrabel said.