The Indianapolis Colts' 24-14 conquest of Tampa Bay on Sunday was a tale of two halves.
The Bucs owned the game's opening two quarters, and Indianapolis' comeback carried the day in the final 30 minutes.
Despite its modest 14-7 advantage, Tampa Bay dominated in the first half, leading the Colts in first downs (16-3), total yards (182-68) and time of possession (23:30 to 6:30). All but 30 seconds of Indianapolis' first-half possession time came in the second quarter.
In the second half, the Colts stormed back with 17 straight points, built largely on Jeff George's 177 yards passing. The teams nearly matched second-half possession time, with Tampa Bay finishing with an overall 37:28-22:32 edge.
Streak goes on
By playing on all 86 of the Bucs' offensive snaps, tackle Paul Gruber extended his consecutive-play streak to 4,186. Gruber, who missed most of practice last week because of a sprained ankle, has played every offensive snap for Tampa Bay since being drafted in 1988's first round.
With the addition of running back James Brooks, the Bucs' quota of former Bengals has risen to seven, including coaches.
Besides Brooks, signed last week to help offset the loss of injured tailback Gary Anderson, former Cincinnati coach Sam Wyche has employed running back Stanford Jennings, linebacker Ed Brady and guards Bruce Reimers and Brian Blados. Quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert rounds out the Cincy contingent.
Carrier is third
Mark Carrier's first catch of the day moved him into third place on the Tampa Bay all-time receiving list. Jimmie Giles had 279 catches. Carrier's five Sunday gives him 284. He needs only three to pass Kevin House for the No.
2 spot. Running back James Wilder, with 430 catches, is the Bucs' all-time leading receiver.
Cornerback Milton Mack did not play after pulling a hamstring in the first half. Tackle Rob Taylor (knee), Reimers (knee) and Carrier (shoulder) also were hurt. The status of all four is unknown.
Wyche took the pregame microphone Sunday and presided over a moment of silence for the area residents who suffered losses from Saturday's tornadoes. More than half the players on Tampa Bay's 45-man active roster (24) Sunday weren't with the Bucs when they closed the 1991 season by beating the Colts 17-3. That game, Dec.
22 at Tampa Stadium, snapped a 10-game Bucs losing streak to AFC opponents and turned out to the be final act in Richard Williamson's 19-game coaching tenure. Bucs free safety Darrell Fullington's first-half interception was his third pickoff of the season, equaling Tampa Bay's 1991 team high. Strong safety Marty Carter became the first Buc with two interceptions in a game since Harry Hamilton did it against Chicago in 1990. With Wyche calling for better home attendance after a 3-1 start, a season-high 56,585 attended.
After next week's bye, the Bucs resume play Oct. 18 with a 1 p.m. game at Chicago. It's the first of three straight games against 1991 playoff qualifiers; the next following two are Detroit Oct. 25 and at New Orleans Nov. 1.
_ DON BANKS, JOANNE KORTH