The shootout that many were expecting between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts didn't materialize until the second quarter, but it was some key second-half turnovers by the Tampa Bay defense and a classic Tom Brady two-minute drill that led the Bucs to a huge 38-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Leonard Fournette was the offensive star for Tampa Bay, as he iced the game with a 28-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left, his fourth of the day, and Ronald Jones scored another, as the Bucs improved to 8-3 on the year and got their third road win in 2021.
Although he didn't score, Rob Gronkowski was another offensive star, catching seven passes for 123 yards, many of the big-play variety, and when the team really needed them.
Just as it looked the Colts might take control of the game at the start of the third quarter, Shaq Barrett came through for a strip sack of Carson Wentz, also recovering the fumble. The Bucs then converted that turnover into points, on Fournette's third touchdown of the game on a four-yard run, cutting the Colts' lead to three, 24-21.
On Indy's next drive, Antoine Winfield Jr. outjumped Colts' receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for an interception, and the Tampa Bay offense did its job, taking advantage of a questionable pass-interference call in the end zone on the Colts to re-take the lead, 28-24, on a one-yard Ronald Jones touchdown run.
On a Buccaneers punt after the Colts slowed the Bucs' momentum, Indianapolis returner Nyheim Hines muffed Bradley Pinion's punt, which was recovered by Scotty Miller. The Colts' D stiffened after the muff, and Ryan Succop converted a 25-yard filed goal to put Tampa Bay up 31-24 with 10:06 to go.
The Bucs defense kept Indianapolis star running back Jonathan Taylor quiet until the 4th quarter, when he basically ran the Colts to his four-yard tying score, carrying the ball eight times for 58 yards on that drive.
But if you give Tom Brady enough time, and enough times out, he'll more than likely finish the opposing team's chance to win, which he did, with the help of Fournette.
It's not often you see a team get five possessions in a quarter, but the Bucs did just that in the first with three three-and-outs, a drive that ended on a Chris Godwin fumble and a drive that started after a Colts first-quarter fumble. At that point, you had to ask if the offenses were just bad, or the defenses great. In fact, it was a little of both.
That drive after the Colts' fumble continued into the second quarter, where the Bucs took advantage of the good field position afforded to them. Fournette scored from a yard out, giving the Bucs a 7-3 lead. The Colts' three came on a 45-yard Michael Badgley field goal early in the first.
Indianapolis regained the lead with 62-yd TD from Wentz to Ashton Dulin, his first ever TD reception, who was wide open past Sean Murphy-Bunting.
And after an Isaiah Rodgers interception of Tom Brady on the next series, the Colts opened it up a little more, going 90 yards in nine plays, including converting on a 4th and 1 at the Bucs 17, then scoring on a 15-yard TD pass from Carson Wentz to Jack Doyle on the next play to make it 17-7.
But the Bucs didn't panic as their offense went to work after Doyle's TD, answering with an eight-play, 84 yard drive of their own, Fournette capping the drive, this time with a four-yard touchdown reception with 1:56 to go in the half.
The Colts, however, used as much of that 1:56 as they could, with help from the Bucs' defense in allowing two third-and-long conversions, one on an 18-yard run by Wentz to extend the drive. Indy then went for it on 4th-and-1 at the Bucs 4 with 22 left, and scored on a touchdown reception by TY Hilton, his first of the year.
Tampa Bay is on the road again next Sunday at division-rival Atlanta, as Countdown to Kickoff starts your football day at 11 am with Tom Krasniqi and Michael Clayton on 95.3 WDAE!
Cover Photo: Getty Images