Colts 17

(0-4, 0-2 away)

Buccaneers 24

(3-1, 2-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, October 3, 2011

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL 

1 2 3 4 T
IND 3 7 7 017
TB 0 7 10 724

Top Performers

Passing: J. Freeman (TB) - 287 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: L. Blount (TB) - 25 CAR, 127 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: P. Garcon (IND) - 2 REC, 146 YDS, 2 TD

Josh Freeman rallies Bucs in 4th to keep Colts winless

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount reversed roles Monday night against Indianapolis.

Freeman picked up the tough yards, and Blount had the highlight play. Together, they helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win their third consecutive game.

Freeman threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, Blount ran for 127 yards and a score, and the Buccaneers beat the Colts 24-17 in prime time.

Freeman, who ran for a touchdown early in the game, scrambled for a huge first down on the winning drive. Two plays later, Blount found a gaping hole, bounced to the outside and scampered 35 yards for a touchdown. He carried defensive back David Caldwell the final few yards before diving for the pylon.

Freeman wasn't done with the dirty work, though. Needing a yard to move the chains, extend the drive and deny the Colts a chance to tie the game, Freeman picked up the first down on a fourth-and-1 play.

"It really wasn't pretty the whole time, but that's us," Freeman said.

The Buccaneers (3-1) kept pace with New Orleans in the NFC South. The Colts fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1998, Peyton Manning's rookie season. Manning has watched all four losses, unable to play because of a neck injury.

Curtis Painter started this one, filling in for injured backup Kerry Collins, who's out because of a concussion, and played better than most expected.

"It's always a little easier when you know you're going to get some playing time," Painter said. "We got off to a good start and put some points on the board. But obviously we have to find a way to put more points on the board and move the ball a little bit better."

Painter completed 13 of 30 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns, both long ones to Pierre Garcon. He wasn't nearly as effective down the stretch, partly because the Colts lost starting offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana to injuries. Guard Ryan Diem was inactive.

"I think you have to deal with injuries in this business," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. "They happen. You just have to find a way to overcome it. That's what we talk about -- the next man up. Somebody has got to fill in and be ready to play."

Nonetheless, losing three guys at the same position is tough for any team to overcome.

"It's one of those things where we have to move some things around and make some adjustments," Caldwell said. "It's not a good situation, but nevertheless one that you have to work through."

Painter and Garcon were the lone bright spots for the Colts.

Garcon turned a short sideline route into an 87-yard score in the second quarter, then took a screen pass and weaved his way through defenders for a 59-yarder in the third.

Those were the team's longest plays of the season. The 87-yarder was the fifth-longest pass play in team history and longer than anything Manning has thrown in his NFL career.

The Colts were up 17-10 after Garcon's second score, but it was all Tampa Bay in the final 20-plus minutes.

"It's always good to win on a national stage," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "Everybody wants to have a better performance, but it's hard to apologize for wins, so we're excited about them all. They're hard enough to get, so you might as well enjoy every single one you do."

Freeman was 25 of 39 passing, buying time in the pocket and picking apart Indy's zone defense. He got the Bucs on the scoreboard with a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter and tied the game at 10 with a 13-yard pass to Preston Parker late in the third.

Blount put them ahead for good with his longest run of the season. Freeman kept them there with his fourth-down plunge into the line.

Tampa Bay's biggest problem of the game -- aside from giving up the two long TD passes -- was penalties. The Buccaneers were flagged 14 times for 106 yards.

None of those was as costly as Dwight Freeney's penalty. Indianapolis' star pass-rusher was flagged for being offside on a third-and-19 play. The Buccaneers converted on the ensuing play, setting up Connor Barth's 46-yard field goal that tied the game at 10.

Indy went back in front on Garcon's second score. He eluded several defenders while criss-crossing the field, and may have been aided by a block in the back. There were no flags, though.

Garcon's first one was nearly as good. He turned up the sideline and outran everyone to the end zone, giving the Colts a 10-0 lead.

Freeman responded by driving the Bucs down the field, then sneaked the ball across the goal line. Tampa Bay had a chance to tie the game or take the lead just before halftime, but Robert Mathis sacked Freeman on third down and the Bucs had to scramble to get the field goal unit lined up.

They did, and Barth's kick was good from 37 yards. But the Bucs had 12 men on the field, so they went to the locker room trailing.

It didn't matter, not against the struggling Colts.

"I think we're close," Painter said. "We're just scratching for win here. Everybody is playing hard. That's one thing about our team. We're not going to quit. We're going to continue to battle and hopefully get over the hump."

Game notes

Colts DT Eric Foster injured his right ankle late in the second quarter, was carted off the field and taken to a nearby hospital. He will stay overnight for observation and have season-ending surgery. ... Garcon had 149 yards receiving in Indy's first three games, but had 146 yards on two touches Monday. ... Painter said he hopes for a chance to start next week, but added that it's "out of my hands."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1325
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5277
Total Yards318466
Yards per play6.16.1
Total Drives1113
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-12-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

indFG10:31Adam Vinatieri 45 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 53 yds, 4:34
indTD9:01Pierre Garcon 87 Yard Pass From Curtis Painter (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 98 yds, 1:27
tbTD4:00Josh Freeman 1 Yard Run (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 81 yds, 4:53
tbFG9:48Connor Barth 46 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 52 yds, 5:17
indTD7:22Pierre Garcon 59 Yard Pass From Curtis Painter (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 59 yds, 0:00
tbTD0:22Preston Parker 13 Yard Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yds, 6:56
tbTD3:26Legarrette Blount 35 Yard Run (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 60 yds, 3:32

Research Notes

NEXT LEVEL: The Buccaneers' LeGarrette Blount carried the ball nine times for 62 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter Monday night. Blount proved difficult to bring down, as he accumulated 24 of his 62 yards after being contacted by defenders.
NEXT LEVEL: The Buccaneers had great results when sending at least five pass rushers against Curtis Painter, as he completed only 2 of 11 passes in those situations, including a sack and fumble. When Tampa Bay sent a four-man rush, Painter capitalized with 255 of his 281 yards, and two touchdowns.
NEXT LEVEL: The Colts' Pierre Garcon had just two receptions Monday night against the Buccaneers but both went for long touchdowns and featured plenty of yards after the catch. Garcon finished with 146 yards receiving, including 129 yards after the catch, the best single-game total in the NFL this season. In his 12 catches this season prior to Monday, Garcon had 46 yards after the catch and zero touchdowns.
The 87-yd TD pass from Curtis Painter to Pierre Garcon was the 5th-longest TD pass in Colts regular-season history and the longest since 1975. In case you are wondering, Peyton Manning's longest Pass TD in the regular season is 86 yards to Marcus Pollard back in 2001. He did have an 87-yd TD pass to Brandon Stokley in the playoffs in 2004.
The Bucs road LaGarrette Blount in the 4th quarter, as he rushed for 62 yards on 9 carries. It was the third-most rush yds Blount has run for in the 4th quarter.

PainterCurtis Painter's first two career TD passes totaled 146 yards. It's one of the biggest sums of yardage for a player's first two career TD passes since 1970, but put Painter in some dubious company.

Josh Freeman: 2nd career rush TD. 1st career game with both a pass and rush TD.
From Elias: Curtis Painter's 87-yarder to Pierre Garcon ranks tied for the 7th-longest 1st career TD pass in NFL history.
Since 2000, the colts are 10-2 in games tied going into the 4th quarter. That is tied with the Cardinals for the 2nd-best record in such games over that span. The Patriots are 8-0 when tied leading into the 4th quarter. The Bucs are 5-8 in such games.
Curtis Painter: 87-yd Pass TD to Pierre Garcon... Peyton Manning's longest career TD pass was 86 yards to Marcus Pollard in 2001.

ESPN Stats & Information