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Colts win AFC South, edge Titans

Jan 3, 2011 - 3:29 AM Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Adam Vinatieri kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired and the Indianapolis Colts secured a No. 3 seed in the playoffs with a 23-20 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The Colts (10-6) captured their seventh AFC South title in eight years even before Peyton Manning turned a fumbled Titans snap into the brief game-winning drive.

Jacksonville took care of that for Indy by losing 34-17 to Houston.

The Colts will host the New York Jets next Saturday night in their ninth straight playoff appearance, matching the NFL record set by Dallas from 1975-83.

Indy will be looking to defend its AFC championship against a stacked field of teams that also includes New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Baltimore.

"I'm just happy we don't have to play in the cold (next week)," Colts running back Joseph Addai said. "Regardless, the record is 0-0. We've got a fresh start."

Meanwhile, the Titans (6-10) ended what might be Jeff Fisher's last season as head coach with their eighth loss in nine games despite rallying to tie Indy four times.

Kerry Collins passed for 300 yards in his fifth straight start, throwing touchdown passes to Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson in the third quarter that had the Titans sniffing an upset.

But he fumbled on a snap inside the two-minute warning, giving the ball back to the Colts.

Manning completed a 20-yard pass to Blair White and an 11-yarder to Jacob Tamme before Vinatieri added another clutch kick to his NFL resume by booting the game-winner.

"We're fortunate to get that turnover," Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said. "We can't take credit for God's handiwork, that's for sure."

Manning finished 27-of-41 for 264 yards and threw touchdown passes to Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, leading Indy to its fourth straight win to end the regular season.

He set a new NFL record for completions in a season with 450, breaking Saints quarterback Drew Brees' mark of 448 set earlier Sunday.

"A good way to finish it off," Manning said of the season-ending win.

And what a month it's been for his Colts.

They beat Tennessee to snap a three-game losing streak, but were still in danger of being eliminated from the race for the division title. They kept themselves alive by defeating Jacksonville two weeks ago, then traveled to beat pesky Oakland.

Sunday marked their eighth straight home win against division opponents. But Tennessee sure put up a fight in a back-and-forth game.

The Colts carried a 13-6 lead into the second half, but Tennessee tied the game on Britt's 21-yard touchdown catch in the right side of the end zone in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Back-to-back Titans penalties carried the Colts across midfield and Manning hit Garcon with a perfect 30-yard touchdown pass, getting the throw off just before he was drilled by defensive end Jason Babin to give Indy a 20-13 lead.

But Tennessee came right back to tie the game for a fourth time when Johnson caught a pass in the middle of the field, broke a tackle and scored from 15 yards for his first receiving touchdown of the season.

Johnson finished with just 39 yards rushing on 20 carries, but also had six receptions for 51 yards. Britt caught five passes for 85 yards and Jared Cook had seven receptions for 58.

On the series prior to Collins' fumbled snap, the Colts gave the ball away on a Dominic Rhodes fumble. It came around the same time that Houston wrapped up its win over Jacksonville, giving Indy the division, though it was unclear how much the Colts players knew at the time.

"The way coach put it during the whole week was just to take care of our business and we'll be all right," said Addai. "I don't really think we knew what was going on or what was happening."

The teams traded field goals in the first half, making two apiece, but the Colts carried a 13-6 lead into the break after Manning found Wayne with a short pass in the flat and Wayne followed blockers into the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown.

The Titans attempted a 61-yard field goal at the end of the half, but Rob Bironas didn't get the ball to the goal posts.

Indy's Antoine Bethea caught the ball and returned it 101 yards to the Tennessee seven, where he was finally tackled by tight end Craig Stevens, but the play was negated by an illegal block near midfield.

The Titans posted their first losing record in five years -- just two seasons removed from winning the AFC South at 13-3. Fisher may be the longest-tenured coach in the NFL, but his future with Tennessee is in question at the end of a year marked by incidents like Vince Young's blowup.

Fisher has coached the Titans for 17 seasons and posted a combined 147-126 record in the regular season and playoffs.

"I hope that I am (back)," Fisher said afterward.

Johnson and several other players stressed that they couldn't worry about potential changes to the coaching staff, only their preparations for next season.

"Fish is a good coach," Johnson said. "My three years playing with him, I've enjoyed him as a coach. He's been coaching for [17] years so obviously he's been doing something right."

Game Notes

Wayne led all receivers with nine catches for 68 yards...Rhodes and Addai carried 11 times apiece for Indy and combined for 92 yards...The Colts outgained Tennessee by a 358-341 margin...New England and Pittsburgh are the top two seeds in the AFC. The Colts earned the No. 3 spot in a tiebreaker over 10-6 Kansas City...Manning surpassed former offensive lineman Gene Upshaw and set an NFL record with his 208th consecutive start to begin his career...The Colts lost to New Orleans in last year's Super Bowl.