Curtis Painter gets the start under center, his first as an NFL quarterback, on a Monday Night stage, in the hostile environment of Raymond James Stadium at a time where the Colts are in a must-win situation. The 0-3 Colts have done no favors to Painter tonight. However, big players take big stages and make them their own. Fans will focus on last week’s missed opportunity, a wide-open Pierre Garcon overthrown by a backup. They’ll miss a 27 yard strike tossed perfectly to Garcon that led to a game-tying touchdown. He was 5-of-7 on that drive for 60 yards. The Colts will simplify the play book and look to involve Joseph Addai and Delone Carter on some quick outs and screens in an attempt to loosen up the box so the running game can function. Dallas Clark could have limited usefulness, particularly on long downs as offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen to will elect to go into a max-protect scheme to give Painter more time. Tampa Bay’s defense is ranked 19th, 18th against the pass, yielding 252 yards per contest, but the Colts might find their best friend in the 22nd-ranked Tampa offense. Josh Freeman has yet to throw a score in any contest before the fourth quarter. This game will change that, as Tampa Bay will try making some plays early to force Painter and the Colts to come from behind. LeGarrette Blount will face a Colts team giving up 113 yards per game, but a stout 3.3 per attempt. Second-year man Preston Parker is now the leading receiver on this Bucs team, which is one of the worst red zone offenses in the league, converting touchdowns just 27 percent of the time in their 11 trips. Freeman will have to show up early to build a lead, and because the Colts had trouble containing the Steelers Heath Miller, I expect a heavy dose of Kellen Winslow, with a few long balls to Mike Williams. This one will be closer then Tampa Bay would like until the Bucs defense seals the deal on a Colts offensive mistake.
BUCS 24, COLTS 14