Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Bucs' Freeman leads late rally, again
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied for their third straight win, spoiling the first career start of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter in a 24-17 victory.
Josh Freeman's ninth-career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime (according to the Elias Sports Bureau) helped Tampa Bay extend its longest win streak since winning four straight in 2008 (under Jon Gruden).
Elias also says Freeman has led seven such drives since the start of last year (five in 2010, two in 2011), tying him with Matt Ryan for the most in that span.
Freeman made some huge plays with his legs Monday. He rushed for a 1-yard touchdown in the first half, made two critical plays with his feet on the Bucs' final scoring drive to help them take the lead, and then helped salt away the game with two first-down runs on the final drive.
Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount added 127 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown in the win. It was Blount's first 100-yard rushing game this season and fifth of his career.
Blount carried the ball nine times for 62 yards and a score in the fourth quarter Monday night. He proved difficult to bring down, accumulating 24 of his 62 yards after contact.
Despite taking the loss, Painter (13-30, 281 yds, 2 TD) wasn't without his moments in his first career start, connecting on an 87-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon for the game's first touchdown.
It was the longest "first touchdown pass of a player's career" since Charlie Batch had a 98-yarder for the Lions in 1998.
In the same game in which he shined, though, Painter also showed his inexperience.
The Buccaneers had great results when sending at least five pass rushers against him, as he completed only 2 of 11 passes in such 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.
Meanwhile, Garcon topped the 100-yard receiving mark for the fourth time in his career; it's his second career game with multiple touchdown catches.
Despite the efforts of Painter and Garcon, the Colts find themselves at 0-4 for the first time since 1998 and the fifth time since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Each of the previous four times they finished the season no better than 3-13.
Only one team in NFL history has made the playoffs after starting 0-4: the 1992 San Diego Chargers.