TAMPA — Three days after getting an upper front tooth dislodged by an offensive lineman’s helmet, Vita Vea arrived at his media session with a mask and mischievous streak.
“The NFL came out with new protocols,” the Bucs’ 347-pound nose tackle said. “We have to wear a mask five days after Thanksgiving.”
Vea played coy another minute or two, feigning ignorance at reporters’ questions about the hit that left him bleeding and even in some postgame misery. Finally, he slipped the mask down, brandishing a broad grin and some fresh dental work.
And the tooth he lost?
“I left it (on the field), it’s part of Colts history now,” Vea said. “One day, someone’s going to, like, fall down or be in the bottom of the pile and they’re going to see it, and they’re going to think of me.”
Fox cameras captured Vea flashing a gap-toothed smile shortly after Colts guard Mark Glowinski’s helmet smashed into his chin strap in the second quarter.
“I have not seen anything like that before,” fellow tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “It was definitely a surprising view to see.”
Vea said the hit didn’t really hurt, adding he didn’t realize he had lost a tooth until moving his tongue around and feeling the empty space.
“After the game, I went to drink some water and it hurt like hell,” he said. “It was like, sensitive to the cold. I think it was exposed to the nerve a little bit. But the dentist took care of me, got me right.”
One fourth-quarter scoring drive aside, the Colts’ efforts to muster a run game against the NFL’s top-ranked defense was like, well, pulling teeth. League rushing leader Jonathan Taylor finished with 83 yards on 16 carries but gained 58 of those on Indianapolis’ late scoring drive, when the Bucs opted for a pass-defense mode.
The Colts’ 107 rushing yards were their third-fewest of the season. Taylor watched his streak of consecutive 100-yard games end at three.
“Our front seven, I think for the most part outside of that (fourth-quarter) drive ... did our job,” Suh said. “I think when it really comes down to it, it’s not so much about what other teams do against us, it’s about how we go and execute. And during that drive we made a lot of mistakes and they took advantage of them, and that’s what offenses do.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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