TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Curtis Painter's first NFL start got off to a solid start, then went south.
Painter completed three of his first four passes and helped the Indianapolis Colts take a 3-0 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the first quarter Monday night.
The Buccaneers got to Painter after that, though, with a variety of blitzes. Painter, starting in place of Kerry Collins (concussion), missed his next six passes and fumbled during a sack.
Michael Bennett knocked the ball loose, setting the Buccaneers (2-1) up with good field position. But Connor Barth missed a 46-yard field goal, clanking it off the right upright.
Tampa Bay got the ball back and celebrated a 62-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Arrelious Benn, but officials nullified the play after ruling that Benn stepped out of bounds before the reception. Bucs coach Raheem Morris challenged the final play of the first quarter, but officials upheld the call after review.
The Colts are trying to avoid their first 0-4 start since 1998, Peyton Manning's rookie season. Manning has not played this season, and Collins missed Monday's game while recovering from a concussion. Painter got the start, and recently signed Dan Orlovsky served as the backup.
Painter hooked up with Dallas Clark twice and Reggie Wayne once, but misfired badly on three throws to Pierre Garcon. Joseph Addai helped out Painter with 30 yards rushing in the opening 15 minutes.