Indianapolis was without offensive starters in wide receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Joseph Addai, as well as defensive starters in linebacker Freddie Keiaho and safety Bob Sanders when Tampa Bay came to play in the RCA Dome on Sunday. But the Colts did have quarterback Peyton Manning, and that was all they needed as they thrashed the visiting Bucs, 33-14.
Manning was virtually unstoppable for the Colts, who are now 5-0, completing 29-of-37 passes (78 percent) for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, the team’s first-round draft pick, stepped up for the missing Harrison and had seven catches for 71 yards.
Receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark each had seven catches and a touchdown for the Colts while posting 62 and 49 yards receiving, respectively. Manning was a master at picking apart Tampa Bay’s defense by throwing underneath and taking advantage of the Bucs’ linebackers, who racked up 31 tackles, but got burned often in pass coverage.
Tampa Bay’s defense allowed 400 yards and could not get off the field on third down. Indianapolis converted 12-of-16 third down opportunities (75 percent). And once again, its pass rush was nowhere to be found.
Defensive ends Gaines Adams and Patrick Chukwurah applied some pressure to Manning, but not enough to alter his game. Rookie safety Tanard Jackson picked off Manning to help set up a Tampa Bay scoring drive in the second quarter, but that was Manning’s only real mistake of the game. Given the fact that the Colts were in control from the start, it was hardly a costly error.
Manning received help from former Canadian Football League rusher Kenton Keith, who got his first NFL start in place of the injured Addai. Keith scored two touchdowns and rushed for 121 yards on 28 carries (4.3 avg.) as the Colts racked up 147 yards on the ground. Tampa Bay’s running game was non-existent as it fell behind early, 13-0. And when the Bucs attempted to run the ball, mainly on first down, the Colts were ready and held Tampa Bay to just 17 yards on 12 carries (1.4 avg.).
Complicating matters for Tampa Bay’s running game, which was already without starter Cadillac Williams, who was lost for the season last week due to a torn patellar tendon, was the fact that running back Michael Pittman went down with a serious ankle injury in the 7:48 mark in the second quarter. Pittman had caught two passes for 16 yards and rushed five times for minus-1 yard prior to being carted off the field.
It is unknown as to whether Pittman suffered a broken bone or just has a ligament strain, but he is expected to miss at least a month’s worth of action. Running back Earnest Graham is expected to start next Sunday against Tennessee.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia was efficient, completing 18-of-23 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns, but had a hard time manufacturing the big play. Wide receiver Joey Galloway dropped two critical passes in the first half and he and Garcia couldn’t hook up for a big play downfield.
The Bucs offense started the game with three straight three-and-outs and didn’t pick up its initial first down until midway through the second quarter when Tampa Bay had already trailed Indianapolis 13-0.
The Colts struck first when Clark scored a 10-yard middle screen pass. Manning was 3-for-3 on the drive with all of those passes going Clark’s way for 29 yards. The seven-play, 42-yard scoring drive was set up by a 29-yard punt return by Craphonso Thorpe. With 10:19 left in the first quarter, Indianapolis led 7-0.
Indianapolis’ lead increased to 13-0 after a 14-play, 74-yard touchdown drive. The key play on the drive was Keith’s 2-yard gain on fourth-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 36. Manning was 7-of-7 for 56 yards on the drive. Keith capped off the drive with his first NFL touchdown on a 1-yard run. Bucs defensive end Gaines Adams broke through the middle of the Colts offensive line and blocked the extra point.
After three straight three-and-outs due to a sharp tackling Colts defense, Tampa Bay’s offense finally picked up a first down at the 10:59 mark in the second quarter. The Bucs got the ball back due to Jackson’s interception at the Tampa Bay 28. A 48-yard return was negated by an illegal block above the waist infraction on defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, but the Bucs still got good field position at the their own 44-yard line.
Garcia was able to engineer a nine-play, 56-yard scoring drive behind 5-of-5 passing for 44 yards. The key play was a 13-yard catch by Galloway on third-and-8 at the Indianapolis 43-yard line. After picking up three more first downs, Garcia found tight end Alex Smith for a 3-yard touchdown on first-and-goal. With 6:43 left in the second quarter, the score tightened to 13-7.
But Indianapolis would answer and increase its lead to 16-7 just before halftime. Manning was 6-of-7 for 53 yards on the 12-play, 67-yard scoring drive. The big play on this series came when Manning found Gonzalez open downfield for 21 yards. The Colts got down to the Tampa Bay 3-yard line, but had to settle for a 27-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal with five seconds left on third-and-goal.
The Colts would pad their lead in the third quarter with its opening possession after a 13-play, 77-yard scoring drive that was capped off by Keith’s 7-yard touchdown. Manning was 5-of-5 for 59 yards on the drive. With 7:23 left in the third quarter, the Colts led 23-7.
After another three-and-out by Tampa Bay’s offense, Manning and the Colts offense went back to work, this time with an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive. Keith did most of the damage with 27 yards rushing on three carries and a 13-yard reception. Manning hit Wayne for a 9-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. With 14:57 left with in the fourth quarter, Indy’s lead increased to 30-7.Tampa Bay would answer with a 12-play, 81-yard scoring drive that was led by Garcia’s passing. The veteran quarterback was 8-of-10 for 72 yards. The biggest play of the drive came on third-and-5 from the Tampa Bay 49 when Garcia found Galloway downfield for a 27-yard gain down to the Indianapolis 24-yard line. Four plays later, Garcia hit Smith with his second 3-yard touchdown to cut Indy’s lead to 30-14 with 9:21 left in the game.
Indy would consume the clock in the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 67-yard field goal drive to close out the scoring. Keith rushed for 46 yards, including a 22-yard jaunt off left tackle on the first play of the possession. Vinatieri’s second field goal of the day, this one from 35 yards out with 2:57 left in regulation, finished off the Bucs, 33-14.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…Indianapolis had built a 16-7 lead at halftime and controlled the clock in the third quarter with two touchdown drives that consumed 13:19 and added 14 points to the Colts’ score. Once Indianapolis’ lead increased to 23-7, the game was over, especially when Tampa Bay went three-and-out in its only third quarter possession. After a drive that consumed 7:37 off the clock to start the second half, the Colts embarked on a 5:45 scoring drive that put the game away as Indy’s lead swelled to 30-7.
PEWTERREPORT.COM’S PEWTER PLAYER OF THE GAMERookie safety Tanard Jackson was the lone bright spot for Tampa Bay’s defense in the teams’ 33-14 loss at Indianapolis. Jackson finished the game with four tackles and two passes defensed, including one at the 12:30 juncture of the second quarter in which he delivered a crushing blow to tight end Dallas Clark, knocking him out of the game temporarily. The rookie out of Syracuse cocked his right forearm and blasted Clark in the torso John Lynch-style. On the next play, Jackson also recorded his first NFL interception against future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. That pick came in the second quarter and set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown drive of the game. Jackson’s 48-yard run back was reduced to a 26-yard interception return due to a penalty. For his efforts, Jackson is the PewterReport.com Pewter Player of the Game.
RECORDS, MILESTONES AND NOTES• The Buccaneers surrendered the first points in the first quarter all season when Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark on Sunday. Prior to the Colts game, Tampa Bay had outscored its opponents 27-0.
• The Colts dominated the time of possession, 38:15 to 21:45. Indy owned the first and third quarters, possessing the ball for 10:51 and 13:19, respectively.
• Indianapolis punted just one time, a 33-yard effort by Hunter Smith that was fair caught by Mark Jones.
• With starting left tackle Luke Petitgout on injured reserve with a torn ACL, Donald Penn got his first start in the NFL and was matched up against Pro Bowl-caliber defensive end Dwight Freeney. Freeney had half a sack, but that wasn’t against Penn. Penn did a pretty good job in pass protection, but had more problems with Freeney in the running game.
• Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy is 2-0 against his old team as Indianapolis’ head coach. Dungy beat the Bucs in Tampa on October 6, 2003, 38-35 in an overtime thriller on Monday Night Football.
• Bucs defensive end Greg White got his first NFL start against Indianapolis.STATS THAT COUNTTight end Alex Smith scored his first touchdown on the season at Indianapolis. In fact, he hauled in two 3-yard touchdown catches on his only receptions of the game. The last time Smith had a two-touchdown game was his first game as a rookie in 2005 at Minnesota. … Bucs weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks led all tacklers with 12, while middle linebacker had 11 tackles. … Tampa Bay cornerback Phillip Buchanon had a career-high 10 tackles at Indianapolis. … Bucs wide receiver Ike Hilliard led all receivers with eight catches for 58 yards. Joey Galloway chipped in four catches for 50 yards. … Bucs tight end Jerramy Stevens recorded his first catch as a Buccaneer and finished the game with two grabs for 14 yards. … Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski spelled Jeff Garcia in the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand and completed 3-of-4 passes for 22 yards and was picked off once by safety Antoine Bethea.
BUCS’ STARTING LINEUPS VS. THE COLTSStarting offense: WR Joey GallowayLT Donald PennLG Arron SearsC John WadeRG Davin JosephRT Jeremy TruebloodTE Alex SmithWR Ike Hilliard
WR Michael ClaytonRB Michael Pittman
Starting defense: LE Greg SpiresUT Jovan HayeNT Chris HovanRE Greg WhiteWLB Derrick BrooksMLB Barrett RuudSLB Cato JuneLCB Phillip BuchanonFS Tanard JacksonSS Jermaine PhillipsRCB Ronde Barber
Starting specialists:K Matt BryantP Josh BidwellLS Andrew Economos
BUCS-COLTS INACTIVESBucs Inactives:â€¨LB Adam Hayward,â€¨CB Sammy Davis,â€¨OL Dennis Roland,â€¨DT Ryan Sims,â€¨G Dan Buenning,â€¨MLB Jeremiah Trotter,â€¨QB Chris Simms andâ€¨QB Luke McCown (emergency QB). Offensive lineman Anthony Davis and running back Kenneth Darby were active and did not play.
Colts Inactives:â€¨SS Bob Sanders, RB Joseph Addai, LB Freddie Keiaho, TE Ben Utecht, WR Marvin Harrison, DT Dan Klecko, WR Aaron Moorehead, DB T.J. Rushing. BUCS INJURIESRunning back Michael Pittman was carted off the field in the second quarter with what the Buccaneers are calling a sprained ankle. Defensive end Greg White suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter.
KICKOFF CONDITIONSThe announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Colts game at the RCA Dome was 57,202.
UP NEXTThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) will host the Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, October 14. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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