Brandstater-to-James Duo Leads Colts Offense in Second Half
Colts backup quarterback Curtis Painter played into the early third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night, but it was his second-quarter connections to receiver Blair White that stood out for both players.
Painter completed 9-of-19 passes in the first half for 114 yards, and 96 of those yards went to White.
White finished the night with seven receptions for 132 yards.
"I am just going out there every day and working my tail off," White said. "I may not get as many reps as the ones or some other guys, but at the same time I have to go out and get better and put myself in the best situation I can. I thought I played alright and got better. That's what it is all about."
Of his five receptions in the second quarter, White had three catches that were particularly impressive.
Early in the second quarter, Painter rolled out to his right and found White on an out route to the right sideline. White made the catch while falling out of bounds, with his body fully extended, and drug both feet for the first down and a 12-yard pickup.
Later in that quarter with the Colts down 6-0, Painter again found White, this time for a gain of 52 yards. White caught the ball, faked to the right making the Bengals defensive back miss, cut to the middle of the field and scampered for 52 yards to the Cincinnati 24-yard line.
That play set up a 23-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri, pulling the Colts to within three, 6-3.
With time running out in the half, White extended the Colts' drive as Painter was under pressure on a 3rd-and-10 and found the receiver as he came back to aid his quarterback. The 12-yard gain kept the drive alive, and the Colts eventually tied the game, 6-6, with a 36-yard Vinatieri field goal.
Painter and White were not the only quarterback-receiver combination on Thursday night.
Quarterback Tom Brandstater and receiver/returner Brandon James combined for three touchdowns, all in the second half.
After taking over for Painter with 11:06 remaining in the third quarter, Brandstater marched the offense down the field, completing 3-of-5 passes for 64 yards. That drive concluded with a 26-yard touchdown strike into James' outstretched hands down the left sideline.
Following two stalled drives, the Colts took over at the Bengals 23-yard line after linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka recovered a muffed punt.
It took two plays for Brandstater to find James for their second score of the night, coming on the exact same route as the first. After the score, Indianapolis went for a two-point conversion, and as Brandstater eluded the rush, James slipped open in the left corner of the end zone.
The pair was not finished.
With 1:39 remaining in the game, Brandstater hit James for their third score of the second half. James worked across the goal line where the quarterback found him for the score, pulling the Colts within two points, 30-28, after the converted extra point.
Brandstater finished with 178 yards on 10-of-18 completions and three touchdowns, while James had four catches for 56 yards and three touchdowns.
"It is my job to step up and make some plays and I tried to do that tonight," James said. "Pretty successful. We didn't get a win, but a lot of guys did pretty good and we worked hard out there."
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he liked what he saw from all of the younger players, including Painter, Brandster and James.
"Brandstater did a nice job coming in," Caldwell said. "I thought Curtis did a nice job moving the ball. Brandstater came in and certainly finished it off. I thought they both threw the ball pretty well. The numbers might not be reflective of that, but I thought they played pretty well. The big thing is being able to put the ball in the end zone and I thought Brandstater did a good job of that.
"It was quite a night for (James). He played well and did a lot of things for us; played extremely well. Not only catching the ball and putting it in the end zone, but also in the kicking game. He was close to breaking a couple. I think he did a nice job."
- Kicker Adam Vinatieri was perfect on the night from 36 and 23 yards out, helping the Colts to a 6-6 tie at the half.
-Rookie defensive lineman Ricardo Matthews recorded his first sack of the preseason for an eight-yard loss in the third quarter. Matthews also defended two passes, had two tackles for loss and four tackles.
- Linebacker Pat Angerer led the Colts in tackling in back to back preseason games with 10 at Green Bay and 12 against the Bengals.
-Colts punter Pat McAfee punted nine times for a 47.0-yard average.