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Freeman, Bucs rally past Colts

October 4, 2011

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— Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rally for another victory.

Freeman threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, Blount ran for 127 yards and a score, and the Buccaneers beat the Indianapolis Colts, 24-17, on Monday night.

Freeman, who ran for a touchdown early in the game, scrambled for a huge first down on the winning drive as the Buccaneers (3-1) won their third consecutive game. Freeman rallied the Bucs to victory at Minnesota in Week 2.

The Colts fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1998, Peyton Manning’s rookie season. Manning has watched all four games, unable to play because of a neck injury.

Curtis Painter started this one, filling in for injured backup Kerry Collins, who’s out because of a concussion, and played better than most expected. Painter threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, both long ones to Pierre Garcon. He wasn’t nearly as effective down the stretch, partly because the Colts lost starting offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana to injuries. Guard Ryan Diem was inactive.

Painter completed 13 of 30 passes. Garcon turned a short sideline route into an 87-yard score in the second quarter, then took a screen pass and weaved his way through defenders for a 59-yarder in the third.

The 87-yarder was the team’s longest play of the season, the fifth-longest pass play in team history and longer than anything Manning has thrown in his NFL career.

The Colts were up 17-10 after Garcon’s second score, but it was all Tampa Bay in the final 20-plus minutes.

Freeman was 25-of-39 passing, buying time in the pocket and picking apart Indy’s zone defense. He got the Bucs on the scoreboard with a one-yard plunge in the second quarter and tied the game at 10 with a 13-yard pass to Preston Parker late in the third.

Blount put them ahead for good when he broke through the line of scrimmage, cut right and scampered for a 35-yard score with 3:15 remaining. Freeman had a huge run on a third-and-six play on the drive.

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