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Freeman, Buccaneers rally to beat Colts, 24-17

TAMPA, Fla. — Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount reversed roles Monday night against Indianapolis.

Freeman picked up the tough yards, and Blount had the highlight play. Together, they helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win their third consecutive game.

Freeman threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, Blount ran for 127 yards and a score, and the Buccaneers beat the Colts 24-17 in prime time.

Freeman, who ran for a touchdown early in the game, scrambled for a huge first down on the winning drive. Two plays later, Blount found a gaping hole, bounced to the outside and scampered 35 yards for a touchdown. He carried defensive back David Caldwell the final few yards before diving for the pylon.

Freeman wasn't done with the dirty work, though. Needing a yard to move the chains, extend the drive and deny the Colts a chance to tie the game, Freeman picked up the first down on a fourth-and-1 play.

"It really wasn't pretty the whole time, but that's us," Freeman said.

The Buccaneers (3-1) kept pace with New Orleans in the NFC South. The Colts fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1998, Peyton Manning's rookie season. Manning has watched all four losses, unable to play because of a neck injury.

Curtis Painter started this one, filling in for injured backup Kerry Collins, who's out because of a concussion, and played better than most expected.

"It's always a little easier when you know you're going to get some playing time," Painter said. "We got off to a good start and put some points on the board. But obviously we have to find a way to put more points on the board and move the ball a little bit better."

Painter completed 13 of 30 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns, both long ones to Pierre Garcon. He wasn't nearly as effective down the stretch, partly because the Colts lost starting offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana to injuries. Guard Ryan Diem was inactive.

Painter and Garcon were the lone bright spots for the Colts. Garcon turned a short sideline route into an 87-yard score in the second quarter, then took a screen pass and weaved his way through defenders for a 59-yarder in the third.

Those were the team's longest plays of the season. The 87-yarder was the fifth-longest pass play in team history.