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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Call it ugly. Call it sloppy. Call it anything you want.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t care. Close games, rallies, penalty-filled performances, as long as they end with celebrations, the Bucs will take them all.
Josh Freeman threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards and a score, and the Buccaneers rallied to beat the winless Indianapolis Colts 24-17 on Monday night.
Freeman picked up the tough yards, Blount had the highlight play and the defense ended the night with four sacks. Together, they helped the Buccaneers win their third consecutive game.
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.