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Chris Johnson shut down by Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson had put his early season funk behind him. Or so it seemed.

CJ2K averaged 15 rushing yards during the first three weeks of the season, then 112 in his next eight games. The Houston Texans held Johnson to 50 rushing yards last week, but they are the No. 2 defense in the NFL. There were supposed to be opportunities Sunday against an Indianapolis Colts team ranked 22nd against the run.

Apparently no one told the Colts, as they held Johnson to 44 yards on 19 carries -- his lowest output since Oct. 7.

"I don't really want to make excuses," Johnson said. "It's just the situation. That's what we have.

"It was just one game, and we have to continue to work and get better."

Shutting down the run game was top priority for the Colts. Johnson has been one of the best running backs since he came into the league, even if things started slow this season.

"I thought our secondary tackled extremely well," Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. "He is such a threat, and that's going to put our corners in a bind sometimes because we're going to drop our safeties in there and they're going to be one-on-one. We gave up a couple chunks, but overall I was pretty pleased.

Defensive lineman Cory Redding added: "No. 28 is the main engine of that team. ... We had to take 28 out of the game."

The Colts didn't leave Johnson many options, but CJ2K was hesitant at the line of scrimmage and averaged just 2.3 yards per carry. His long was just 8 yards. Too often, his shoulder pads were perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.

That's where Johnson has gotten in trouble when he has struggled. He can lose trust in his offensive line and starts to look east or west instead of hitting it north/south. Few can match Johnson's straight-ahead speed, but he's not at his best pulling a Barry Sanders and trying to shake defenders. (And it's not like the offensive line was just digging guys out, either.)

The Colts didn't allow gaping holes and kept plenty of bodies in Johnson's vicinity. That kept him from popping a long one. And that might have been all it took to swing some momentum back in the Titans' direction.

"The big thing is collectively have everybody do their job," Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney said. "He's a guy where he can take it in any hole at any time. So, it's important to have 11 guys accountable in their gap, making sure they're doing their responsibility. Not doing too much."

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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