Around the NFL  

 

Colts stay tied atop South after besting Tampa Bay

Print

The Indianapolis Colts (6-5) remain tied with the Texans atop the AFC South after knocking off Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6) 25-12 on Sunday. Here's what you need to know:

1. Forty-year-old Matt Hasselbeck has emerged as an inspiration to blue hairs everywhere. Looking sharper than he did against the Falcons, the wily vet upped his 2015 record to 4-0 as a starter with his best game of the year. Hasselbeck doesn't always throw lasers, but he makes up for it with creativity, smarts and his share of impressive lobs. The Colts quarterback threw a pair of beautiful strikes to Donte Moncrief before hitting T.Y. Hilton (six catches for 95 yards) on a 19-yard touchdown that put the Colts up 16-12 midway through the third quarter. He nailed Moncrief (eight catches for 114 yards) repeatedly in key situations, helping the second-year wideout to his third-best day as a pro. How good would Hasselbeck be with any semblance of a ground game?

2. It was a tale of two halves for Jameis Winston, who was five years old when Hasselbeck made his NFL debut. The rookie quarterback struggled over the final two quarters against a Colts pass rush that notched five sacks to help shut out Tampa over the final 30 minutes. Still, Winston delivered another helping of fearless throws downfield to Mike Evans (five catches for 64 yards) and Vincent Jackson (four for 76 yards). Win or lose, the No. 1 overall pick is growing weekly, showing pocket patience and the DNA of a big-play arm. On pace for the highest rookie passer rating by any top pick in NFL history, Winston gives this franchise plenty of hope for tomorrow. Blame the Bucs' O-line for Sunday's second-half fade.

3. Boasting the NFL's second-best ground game, Tampa used Doug Martin heavily during an impressive first half. The team trusts him to put the Bucs into a manageable spot on third down -- and let Winston take it from there. The heavy volume paid off early as Martin broke free for a 56-yard scamper before halftime to put him over 1,000 yards on the year. After 90 yards at halftime, though, Martin piled up just seven yards down the stretch.

4. Frank Gore hasn't crossed four yards per carry in a game since Week 7. With just 24 yards off 19 carries, Gore's 1.3 yards per attempt beg the question: Can the Colts develop a young back before January? Ahmad Bradshaw wasn't any better, putting plenty of pressure on Hasselbeck to do it alone.

5. Keep an eye on Cameron Brate. The Bucs tight end (five grabs for 53 yards) made a pair of big catches, including a 20-yard touchdown reception from Winston. That's a big help with Austin Seferian-Jenkins still out of the mix.

6. Chuck Pagano hurt the team with blown challenges that cost the Colts -- not a good look for a coach on the mega-hot seat. The Bucs were killed by penalties, too, with a flag wiping out a Martin touchdown before Tampa was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct during a field-goal attempt (for leaping!) that handed Indy a first down.

Print

Fan Discussion