INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Brady came to Indianapolis in a new uniform.
He followed the same old script - turning mistakes into points and leading his team on another decisive last-minute scoring drive.
This time, Leonard Fournette broke the tie with a 28-yard scoring run with 20 seconds left to give Tampa Bay a critical 38-31 come-from-behind win for Brady‘s first win over the Colts since joining the Buccaneers.
”Not a lot of love lost, I think,” Brady said, referring to the rivalry he’s had with the Colts. “It was good to win.”
For Brady, it seemed as if nothing changed.
He improved to 16-4 all time against the Colts, leading the Bucs (8-3) to a second straight victory while relying on his supporting cast to do most of the heavy lifting.
Fournette carried 17 times for 100 yards and three scores and caught Brady’s only TD pass of the game, a career-high four touchdowns. Ronald Jones II gave the Bucs their first lead, 28-24 on a 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter and Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for a season-best 123 yards.
Yet when Brady got the ball with 3:29 left and the score tied at 31, he again proved to be the maestro that makes Colts fans cringe.
The difference Sunday was turnovers. Indy (6-6) had five and Brady made them pay every time except for the interception on the game’s final play.
And somehow despite all the errors, the Colts still had a chance to force overtime when Isaiah Rodgers returned the final kickoff 71 yards to the Bucs 32-yard line with 20 seconds left. But Carson Wentz’s first pass fell incomplete and the second was picked off near the goal line.
“It is frustrating,” Wentz said after going 27 of 44 with 306 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. “I don’t know how many times we can turn the ball over against a good team like that, that many times, and still score that many points. It’s not going to happen.”
Indy led at halftime, but the Bucs swung the momentum when Shaquil Barrett sacked Wentz early in the second half, ripped the ball out and recovered it at the Bucs 35. Six plays later, Fournette scored on a 4-yard TD run.
Antoine Winfield outfought Michael Pittman Jr. for the ball on Indy’s next series and Brady wasted no time converting that mistake into Jones’ go-ahead score. Tampa Bay settled for a short field goal after Nyheim Hines fumbled a punt return.
Indy finally tied the score on Jonathan Taylor’s 4-yard TD run with 3:29 remaining - more than enough time for Brady & Co. to create another perfect ending in Indy.
“It was great capping off the game like that with a punch,” Fournette said. “It got scary at the end, but it’s a team sport. We came together and made it happen.”
Taylor ran 16 times for 83 yards and caught four passes for 14 yards - finishing 3 yards short of a NFL record-breaking ninth consecutive game with 100 or more yards from scrimmage and a rushing TD.
Buccaneers: Linebacker Devin White played despite being listed as questionable with a quadriceps injury and returned in the second half after hurting his hip in the first half. Defensive tackle Vita Vea left briefly after losing a tooth and starting cornerback Jamel Dean did not return after injuring right shoulder in the first quarter.
Colts: Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, a 2020 All-Pro, left late in the first half with a right knee injury but returned at the start of the third quarter. Coach Frank Reich said there were no other injuries to report.
Buccaneers: Brady‘s streak of consecutive regular-season games with two or more TDs against the Colts ended at eight. … Fournette also caught seven passes for 31 yards. … Barrett was credited with two sacks.
Colts: Jack Doyle caught six passes for 81 yards and one TD. … Ashton Dulin scored on a 62-yard pass and T.Y. Hilton scored on a 4-yard catch. … Darius Leonard had 15 tackles and become the sixth player in Colts history to reach 500 in his career.
JOINING THE CLUB
Former Colts defensive end-linebacker Robert Mathis finally was inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor on Sunday. He was supposed to join the club last year, but the ceremony was delayed because team owner Jim Irsay wanted a capacity crowd to celebrate with Mathis, who finished his career as the Colts all-time sacks leader (123). He’s a 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist.
“I’m so humbled, so honored,” Mathis said, thanking the fans for making him feel at home in town. “I am not leaving. I am Indy, Indy is me.”
Buccaneers: Visit Atlanta next Sunday.
Colts: Head to Houston next Sunday, seeking a season sweep of the Texans.
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