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In his first regular-season action this year, Painter directed the Colts to a game-tying touchdown against Pittsburgh before Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a game-winning field goal. He bounced back after Troy Polamalu returned his fumble for a touchdown.

Caldwell praised Painter’s effort against the Steelers.

“The first series was just getting his feet underneath him a little bit,” Caldwell said. “I thought he came back and led a nice drive and took us down the field. He did a pretty good job without having many snaps in preparation for this game.”

The team has largely been supportive of Painter, a tone that was reiterated after Sunday’s game.

“I’m a fan of Curtis,” running back Joseph Addai said. “A lot of media, fans, really don’t understand what the quarterback position goes through. Seeing Curtis come in there and make some plays, that was good for him and as teammates we’re happy for him.”

Manning isn’t expected to return until at least November as he recovers from his third neck surgery in the past 19 months. Indy signed Dan Orlovsky to the active roster this week to provide depth.

That leaves Painter as the man to get things moving in the right direction.

“I think we are all going to stick together no matter what,” he said after the loss to Pittsburgh. “That is the thing about this team. It is definitely not over yet. We are going to keep going, get back to work and try to get our first win this week.”

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap