Buccaneers Narrowly Edge Struggling Colts

Tampa Bay improves to 3-1 for the season while Indy remains winless.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Another week in the NFL and another loss for the Indianapolis Colts as they struggle to win any games without their general, Peyton Manning, on the field. This week was a Monday night game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and while the Colts ended up losing 24-17, at least they looked better doing it.

Third year pro Curtis Painter got the nod by the Colts to start this game and from the outset, all appearances were that he was more in synch with this Indy offense than Kerry Collins ever was. Painter led the Colts to an early 10-0 lead and was surprising competent. For the night, he was 13 of 30 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns.

"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."

Unfortunately for Painter and the Colts, you need to be able to get on the field in order to put the points up and the way the Bucs were playing in the second half, that didn't happen much. Tampa Bay held a 19 minutes time of possession edge, including having the ball for 13 minutes in the third quarter, and it proved to be the difference in this game.

The Bucs held the ball for most of the second half and used that time to put up the deciding 17 points and eek out yet another ugly win. But ugly or not, a wins a win, and the Buccaneers improve to 3-1 and a tie for first in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints.

"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."

When you are 0-4 like the Colts, sometimes life just takes the opportunity to keep piling on more adversity and that was the case Monday night as two key offensive lineman were lost to injuries. Starters Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana were unable to complete the game and with guard Ryan Diem inactive for the Colts, they were hurting along their front five.

"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."

"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."

Indianapolis hosts Kansas City in week 5 while the Buccaneers travel to San Francisco to face the surging 49ers.