NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A crew of Tennessee Titans formed a half-circle near midfield around linebacker Wesley Woodyard. They bowed down to Woodyard and simulated taking pictures like the paparazzi. This was the reward of being of a playmaker.
Woodyard had chased down dual-threat Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett for a big stop on fourth-and-1 to halt an Indianapolis comeback attempt in Monday night's contest. It capped off a strong second-half performance by an improving Titans defense.
"This 31-year-old still got a little wheels," said Woodyard, who had eight tackles and recovered a fumble forced by fellow linebacker Avery Williamson. "You just have to make a play to get our [defense] off the field, and lucky be for me, I was blessed to be the one to make it."
Woodyard was the last Titans defensive playmaker, but he wasn't the only one. Williamson forced that fumble, and there were many other key plays that didn't end up on the stat sheet.
The Titans' defense, a much-maligned group in the first month of the season, is growing rapidly before our eyes. For the second consecutive week, it held an opposing offense under 300 total yards. Tennessee allowed 297 yards, with just 111 yards in the second half, against the Colts after giving up a season-low 178 yards to the Miami Dolphins.
A lot of credit goes to Logan Ryan, who is stepping us as the unsung leader of the Titans' secondary. He did his best magic trick on Monday night in making Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton disappear for the better part of the night.
Hilton, who came into Week 6 as the NFL's third-leading receiver, had just one catch for 19 yards. Adoree' Jackson also had his hand in defending Hilton at times and did a great job when contested and otherwise.
"It helps us build confidence, and we want to keep building," Jackson said. "We want people to respect us as a secondary."
Tennessee's defense had a shaky first half while playing a conservative zone, with little pass rush and run defense to offset the Colts' short completions. Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau made some adjustments in the second half, including more pressure and tighter coverage, and the results were apparent.
The Titans blitzed Brissett nine times in the second half, pressuring him on six of those. Tennessee was able to feast in those scenarios, limiting Brissett to just 2 of 9 passing for 17 yards. Brissett completed just under 45 percent of his passes for 93 yards in the second half. Also, the Colts only rushed for 18 yards in the second half.
Tennessee linebacker Brian Orakpo believes this recent two-game run will do wonders for the defense's confidence and give its players momentum moving forward to be the unit they believe they can be.
"When we play on all cylinders, we are a tough defense. We've shown it," Orakpo said. "We had a disappointing effort against Houston and something that we regret. We know that won't ever happen again, and we've bounced back two weeks in a row."
The Titans' defense has a chance to make it three weeks in a row at the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.