Synopsis: For the Indianapolis Colts, progress is a crucial part of the message being echoed throughout the training facility. Despite starting off the season with results that have not matched aspirations, the Indianapolis Colts showed talent and resilience last week in a last-second 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh.
The Colts fell to 0-3 in falling to Pittsburgh, but remained only two games behind Houston and Tennessee in the AFC South. Jacksonville is 1-2. Although there are no moral victories in the NFL, Head Coach Jim Caldwell believes the team is headed in the right direction. The team knows that its progress and hard work must show up in the win column.
"We need to win," said defensive end Robert Mathis. "Winning makes everything better, so we're just going to stay on the grind and keep doing what we're doing. We're just going to keep chopping wood."
The Colts will have a chance to notch their first win of the season in a week four matchup in Tampa, Florida, against a talented Buccaneers squad.
Led by third-year quarterback Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (2-1) has climbed to a tie atop the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints (2-1). The Buccaneers have put together back-to-back wins, and will look to make it three wins in a row for the first time since the 2008 season.
The trio of running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Mike Williams and Freeman helped pace the Buccaneers to a 10-6 record last season, which was a seven-game improvement from the year before. This season Tampa Bay will look to improve upon that mark and turn double-digit wins into a playoff berth.
Last week, the Buccaneers knocked off the defending NFC South Champion Atlanta Falcons, 16-13, dropping their division rival down to a 1-2 record. However, the Saints were able to defeat the Texans in New Orleans to keep pace with the Bucs atop the NFC South.
Blount provided Tampa with 81 rushing yards on 24 carries, while Freeman chipped in 35 yards and a touchdown on the ground. With 36 rushing plays on the day the Buccaneers were able to control the football, winning the time of possession battle, 35:52-24:08.
Following an impressive outing last week against the Steelers the Colts defense once again will need to rise to the occasion and prevent their opponent from controlling the football with the running game. The Colts were able to limit Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall to 37 rushing yards on Sunday night. Indianapolis surrendered just 10 rushing yards on 10 Pittsburgh attempts in the first half.
The Colts offense aims to take advantage of red zone opportunities this Monday, along with converting third-down situations.
"Yeah, this offense is everybody. It's not one guy. There are certain areas that we're improving on each week, but we have to be better," said center Jeff Saturday. "Red zone has to be better, and we've got to be more efficient on third down and continuing drives. Those are the things that we'll stress and we'll keep working on. Hopefully, we'll catch up with the way our defense played."
*2011 Record: *2-1, Tied-1st in NFC South.
*Head Coach: *Raheem Morris, third season as Buccaneers and NFL Head Coach (15-20).
*Last game: *The Buccaneers (1-1) played host to NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons (1-1), as each team set out to improve to 2-1. In a match that saw only two total touchdowns, the Buccaneers came away with the victory despite a fourth-quarter charge from the Falcons. The Buccaneers entered the fourth quarter with a 16-3 lead, but quarterback Matt Ryan would lead the Falcons down the field and connect with Tony Gonzalez on a 10-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 16-10. Following a Matt Bryant field goal to close the gap to 16-13, the Buccaneers would give no more ground as Blount and Freeman were able to burn the remaining 4:00 minutes of game time to secure the victory.
*2011 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 22nd (315.0); Rushing, 20th (92.0); Passing, 21st (223.0); Defense – Overall, 24th (384.7); Rushing, 23rd (114.0); Passing, 23rd (270.7).
*2011 Leading Passer: *Josh Freeman (72-106 comp., 682 yards, 67.9 pct., 2 TDs, 4 INT, 76.1 rating).
*2011 Leading Rusher: *LeGarrette Blount (42 carries, 167 yards, 2 TDs).
*2011 Leading Receiver: *Earnest Graham (20 receptions, 116 yards, 0 TDs).
2011 Leading Sacker: Mason Foster (2.0).
2011 Turnover Breakdown: 0 (Tied 17th).
First-round draft choice: Adrian Clayborn, defensive lineman. With the 20th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Adrian Clayborn out of the University of Iowa.
Clayborn was named a first-team All-American by AFCA and Walter Camp, and third-team All-American by the Associated Press. He was voted All-Big Ten by league coaches and media and was one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award.
*2010 Review: *Head Coach Raheem Morris stated at the beginning of the season that he wanted his team to win the race to 10 wins. If the Buccaneers could reach the 10-win mark before anyone else in the NFC South, then Morris knew his team would control their own destiny.
Although the Buccaneers were able to finish the season 10-6, they fell just short of reaching the playoffs. However, the season was one of epic turnarounds, as the Buccaneers improved by seven wins from their previous 3-13 season.
Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount and Mike Williams developed phenomenal chemistry as the year went on, and the trio showed Tampa Bay fans will have more than enough to cheer about for years to come.
Last time in Playoffs: L, 14-24 vs. New York Giants (2007).
*Last time in Super Bowl: *2002.
*Super Bowl Championships: *One (2002).
*2010 Pro Bowl Selections: *Donald Penn, OT.
Quotable I: On closing out the game against the Atlanta Falcons and Josh Freeman's performance:
"That's what we do, we win in the fourth quarter. We finish strong. That's what we've been doing since we got here. Free didn't need a comeback today, but he found a way to win. That's what the quarterback did today – he found a way to win."
--- Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris
Quotable II: On the victory over the Falcons:
"It was a must-have game and we went out there and got that win. We didn't go out there and play as hard as we did to beat Atlanta; all credit goes to Atlanta because they played a magnificent game. But we went out there to win our division and they were the next opponent on our schedule, they're in our division and we knew we needed this win."
--- Buccaneers Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy