Colts Defeat Tampa Bay
Sunday, October 7th 2007, 7:12 pm
By: News On 6
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis' replacements looked almost as good as the real thing.
With five Colts starters out because of injuries, the offense dominated the game and the clock. The improving defense was stingy as ever in blowing out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14 on Sunday.
Kenton Keith ran for two touchdowns and 121 yards in his first NFL start and Manning, the Super Bowl MVP, threw for two more scores as the Colts headed into the bye week unbeaten for the third straight season.
Playing without eight-time Pro Bowl receiver Marvin Harrison and feature back Joseph Addai, Tampa Bay's usually strong defense still found itself overmatched.
The Bucs gave up two first-half touchdowns after pitching three straight first-half shutouts, and simply could not get Indianapolis off the field.
But the score didn't even reflect the magnitude of the rout.
Indianapolis kept the ball an astounding 38:15 and limited the Bucs (3-2) to eight yards rushing and 74 yards in offense in the first three quarters, 56 yards coming on Tampa's only meaningful scoring drive.
Tampa's offense staggered without running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and left tackle Luke Petitgout, lost to season-ending knee injuries last week, and never seriously challenged a Colts defense that was playing without starting linebackers Freddy Keiaho and Rob Morris or former Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders.
The missing links didn't matter to Manning, who spread the ball around and looked more frequently for tight end Dallas Clark and first-round draft pick Anthony Gonzalez.
Manning finished 29-of-37 for 253 yards, with Clark, Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne each catching seven passes. For Gonzalez it was one more catch than he had in his first four NFL games.
The Bucs finally got something going when Tanard Jackson picked off Manning's pass and returned it to the Tampa 44. Jeff Garcia, under pressure most of the day, eventually threw a 3-yard TD pass to Alex Smith, making it 13-7.
But the score also came with a hefty price. Two plays before the touchdown, the Bucs lost running back Michael Pittman with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. Pittman was carted off the field and didn't return, leaving the Bucs ground game in disarray.
Then the Colts began working more methodically. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 27-yard field goal to close the first half, and Keith opened the second half with a 7-yard touchdown run to make it 23-7. Indy ran 23 plays compared to three for the Bucs in the third quarter.
If the outcome wasn't already determined, Manning made sure of it by finding Wayne for a 9-yard TD pass that made it 30-7.
Garcia closed out Tampa's scoring with another 3-yard TD pass to Smith midway through the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay finished with 17 yards rushing on 12 carries.