TAMPA, Fla. - The Indianapolis Colts are looking to break their losing ways on Monday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Colts are starting quarterback Curtis Painter, with Kerry Collins, the starter for the first three games, out with concussion-like symptoms. The Colts have lost their first three games of the season.
The Colts drove inside the Bucs' 30-yard line, but stalled and settled for a 45-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri for a 3-0 lead.
After forcing a Tampa Bay punt, Painter fumbled on his own 32-yard line, giving the ball back to the Buccaneers, but Conner Barth's 46-yard field goal hit the right upright and was no good.
Tampa Bay appeared to take the lead on the last play of the first quarter, when quarterback Josh Freeman scrambled to his right and found Arrelious Benn on the sideline, split several defenders and ran 62 yards for a touchdown, but the officials ruled he had stepped out of bounds before the catch. The Colts held on the next two plays and forced a punt, maintaining their 3-0 lead.
The Buccaneers backed the Colts up on their own 1 with a punt midway through the second quarter, but a penalty and completed pass gave them some breathing room before Painter extended the lead. He found Pierre Garçon down the right sideline, who shook a tackle and raced 87 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Indianapolis lead.
Tampa Bay responded with an 81-yard scoring drive, capped off by Freeman's one-yard plunge with 3:54 left in the half, to make it 10-7.
Colts defensive tackle Eric Foster was taken off the field in a cart late in the half with a right leg injury. Eyewitness News Sports Director Dave Calabro reported from Raymond James Stadium that Foster had an ankle injury. Foster could be seen pumping his fist in encouragement toward his teammates as the cart drove away.
The Buccaneers had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but a Barth field goal was negated by a penalty for too many men on the field. Freeman took a sack on the next-to-last play of the half and Tampa Bay didn't have any time outs to set up the field goal try.
Tampa Bay did even the score in the third quarter, marching 52 yards with the opening kickoff of the second half, ending in Barth's 46-yard field goal.
Painter and Garçon hooked up again late in the third quarter on a 59-yard touchdown pass to push the lead back to 17-10.
Freeman and the Bucs evened the score with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Preston Parker to make it 17-17.
A 14-play drive that took the Colts into the fourth quarter ended in a missed 43-yard field goal by Vinatieri. Punter Pat McAfee had a little trouble handling the snap and Vinatieri's kick sailed wide left with 11:38 remaining.
Tampa Bay took their first lead of the game with a little more than three minutes remaining. LeGarrette Blount broke free on a 35-yard touchdown run with 3:15 left in the game. Barth's extra point gave Tampa Bay a 24-17 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out by the Colts, Tampa Bay ground out the remaining three minutes, including a conversion on fourth and an inch, to seal the victory.
With the loss, the Colts fell to 0-4 on the season, the first time they've started a season with four losses since the 1998 season.
Painter finished the game completing 13 of 30 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Garçon led all receivers with 146 yards, which all came on his two touchdown grabs. The Buccaneers outgained the Colts on the ground 192 yards to 62.
Indianapolis returns home next Sunday to face the Kansas City Chiefs.
Guard Ryan Diem (ankle) and defensive tackle Fili Moala (ankle) are inactive for the Colts, along with quarterback Peyton Manning, receiver Anthony Gonzalez, defensive back Kevin Thomas and linebacker Ernie Sims.
The Buccaneers are without receiver Sammie Stroughter, running back Allen Bradford, cornerback Anthony Gaitor, tight end Zack Pianalto, defensive tackle Frank Okam and offensive linemen Derek Hardman and James Lee.
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