Friday, November 15, 2013

Indianapolis Colts 30 at Tennessee Titans 27 - November 14, 2013




Nashville is one of my favourite cities, mainly because the Leafs won a game I attended here a few years ago. But it also has a lively downtown scene, with dozens of bars on the west bank of the Cumberland River. Just across the water lies LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Opened in 1999 as Adelphia Coliseum, the stadium is now in its 15th season. Louisiana-Pacific, a building products business based in Nashville, bought the naming rights in 2006, giving their brand national recognition.



The best way to get there is to park downtown and walk across one of two bridges, with the Shelby Street bridge (below) restricted to pedestrians only.



I walked across the Woodland Bridge just north of the stadium, which is partially closed to traffic. Ether way, you will get to see the stadium from a distance, and it is quite a pretty sight right next to the river.



There is very little in the immediate vicinity, so no reason to get there before gates open. Instead, you can enjoy one of the many bars that are downtown. I preferred the Riverfront Tavern at 1st and Church.  Still, don't arrive too close to game time as the lines do get quite long as kickoff approaches.



One you arrive at the stadium, if you are a true geek, you can take a walk around to see the stadium from various angles.







Of course, just across the river is Nashville's distinctive downtown, with the Batman building the most notable.



Inside, the layout is typical of stadiums built around the turn of the century. A full lower bowl with a large concourse, club seats on the second level, and the upper deck seats at the top with no end zone seating. There are two large HD scoreboards at each end which were introduced just last year and at the time were the second-largest in the league.











I was really impressed with the food selection here and highly recommend the Music City Pie Company, which usually operates as a food truck somewhere in town. They have a small booth near section 105 and sell four types of pot pie at $8 each. Could not believe how perfectly flaky the crust was, and the filling was just as good. It really hit the spot on a chilly evening, and might be the best thing I have had at any stadium on this trip. That's the menu below, I can't believe more fans didn't try this. A very popular item is the turkey leg from Logan's Roadhouse, a huge drumstick that I noticed many fans enjoying.



After the Titans lost to Jacksonville just four days prior, tickets to this one were widely available at a discount. I picked up a single for $25, sitting on the aisle in the north end zone. Unfortunately, all the scoring was in the south end zone.



Andrew Luck (above) started for Indianapolis, while Ryan Fitzpatrick was in for Tennessee, who had lost Jake Locker for the season after an injury during Sunday's game.



The Titans scored on their two possessions in the first quarter, both Chris Johnson (with the ball above) runs, the first a nice 30-yard scamper. When the second quarter began and the Titans began moving in our direction, their offense sputtered, but they did manage a field goal from Rob Bironas (below). The Colts kicked a couple themselves, so we went to halftime with the home team up 17-6.



Indy had the ball to start the second half and Luck led them downfield on an 11-play drive, capped by a 7-yard run from Donald Brown, who might be most famous for being yelled at by Peyton Manning a few seasons ago. Brown is certainly a better running back than Trent Richardson (below on a play action), who finished with just 22 yards on 8 carries.



Anyway, on the kickoff, newly signed Titan Devon Wylie fumbled and the Colts recovered at the 20. Two plays later, Luck ran it home to give the Colts a sudden 20-17 lead. That fumble was the turning point and was the only turnover in the game. Tennessee went three-and-out on their next possession and Indianapolis ran 8 plays to get just 26 yards, with Coby Fleener (below) coming up with a couple of catches. Adam Vinateri kicked a 50-yard field goal to extend the lead to 6 points.



The Titans only ran 6 plays in the third quarter, but once they started going towards the south end zone, they began to move the ball fairly well. A holding penalty ended the drive but another Bironas field goal made it 23-20 Indy. Both teams punted on their subsequent possessions, and then Indianapolis finally made it to the north end zone, driving 74 yards over 4:40, with Brown taking it to the house on an 11-yard run (below, that's Brown moving with the football barely visible). All five touchdowns were of the rushing variety, something you don't see very often in the pass-wacky NFL.



With three minutes to go, Fitzpatrick (below) finally got going, moving the Titans 80 yards in just 4 plays, finishing with a 19-yard touchdown to Delanie Walker.



The Titans had a chance but needed to recover an onside kick first, but Pat Angerer fell on the ball and that was it. Luck kneeled three times to end the game with the Colts winning 30-27. Fitzpatrick actually had a better game than Luck, but they lost that one possession on the fumble and that was the difference.



An entertaining game, but I was sitting in the wrong end zone as 47 of the 57 points were scored in the other end. I like sitting in the end zone as you can see the play develop differently than on the sidelines, but sometimes the field is lopsided.

Notes

ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook often writes that a team's performance on a cold day depends on how their cheerleaders dress. It was around 44F at kickoff and the cheerleaders came out in their regular skimpy uniforms, which allowed the Titans to take the 14-0 lead.



Then they put on jackets, and the Titans started to struggle on offense.



Then in the second half, they covered up their legs too, and the Titans lost. You might hear about Andrew Luck's halftime speech being the difference, but it was really the cheerleaders!



My friend Andrew happened to be in Nashville for business and joined me. He waited until game time and was able to buy two tickets for $10, and then sold one for $10 so he got in for free. He had no trouble sitting in my section for the whole game. That's us below, getting photobombed by a fan who goes by the name "Turkey Leg" as apparently he eats one at every game.



Next up is Jacksonville on Sunday, then Carolina on Monday as this week sees me visit three stadiums. Check back for a recap from both games next week!

Best,

Sean

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