After two seasons of holding perhaps the nation's softest job description, Painter was wheeled out before a national TV audience Monday night and, in the process of almost pulling off a Colts victory over the Bucs, recast perceptions about his ability to -- frankly -- play the position.
Forget all that. With a minor resemblance to a beefed-up Kurt Cobain in pads, Painter kept the Colts in the game until the final minutes. It wasn't picturesque, but what the offense lacked with Collins at the helm, Painter helped restore.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, but Painter actually learned something from his time under Manning, and it showed. We saw a Colts team that looked comfortable in its own skin again -- something that was in short supply under Collins, despite the large sum of money the team heaped on him.
The shot of the night had to be Manning, huddled in the shadows in an upstairs booth, smiling after Painter's sizzling 87-yard scoring strike to Pierre Garcon.
Caldwell, per the usual, speaks to us in code -- and this all goes by the wayside with Manning's eventual return from neck surgery -- but are we at the dawn of the glorious Curtis Painter era in Indy?