Colts’ Veterans Lead Team to Victory

Indy’s golden oldies keep producing hits.

Matt Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards and two more touchdowns, and
Adam Vinatieri made four more field goals. The throwback Sunday
even included another crucial leaping penalty against Tampa Bay.

The 40-year-old Hasselbeck improved to 4-0 as a starter this season
by topping the 300-yard mark for the first time in four years, and
the Indianapolis Colts beat the Buccaneers 25-12 to remain on top
of the AFC South.

”They’re great leaders, great competitors and they love coming to
work every single day,” coach Chuck Pagano said. ”I’m sure when
it becomes work, they’ll hang up the cleats.”

Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

Hasselbeck has been playing with the efficiency of a quarterback
half his age – and he proved it in Indy’s third consecutive win.

In the first matchup between the oldest and youngest starting
quarterbacks in the NFL since December 2010, according to STATS,
Hasselbeck easily outplayed Jameis Winston.

Hasselbeck finished 26 of 42 with no turnovers. He had a 100.8
rating and joined Brett Favre and Warren Moon as the only
40-year-old quarterbacks during the Super Bowl era to win four
consecutive starts.

Winston was 20 of 36 for 245 yards with one touchdown, one
interception and a rating of 74.4. The rookie also was sacked five
times.

Hasselbeck kept the Colts poised and in control – even after they
settled for field goals on their first three scores.

”He’s not playing like he’s 40,” said T.Y. Hilton, who caught six
passes for 95 yards and two TDs. ”He’s out there having fun,
making sure guys are in the right spot and letting us make plays.
He’s fired up and wants to make sure guys are in the right spot so
he can make plays.”

The 42-year-old Vinatieri connected from 49, 27 and 26 yards before
adding a 44-yarder after Indy (6-5) took the lead for good late in
the third quarter. He has made 16 consecutive field goals since
missing his first two attempts this season.

Tampa Bay (5-6) was shut out in the second half after carrying a
12-6 lead into the break.

”It just wasn’t our day today,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.
”Today, we didn’t play well.”

They hurt themselves, too.

A 56-yard run from Doug Martin set up Tampa’s only touchdown, a
20-yard pass from Winston to Cameron Brate that made it 12-6 with
1:54 left in the second quarter. Martin finished with 14 carries
for 97 yards.

The Bucs’ defense forced only two punts in the first 55 minutes,
and even when it appeared it could change course, Tampa failed.

A potential touchdown pass on third down slipped through the hands
of Mike Evans on third-and-6, forcing the Bucs to attempt a 54-yard
field goal. Connor Barth missed it to the left and Tampa Bay was
called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which gave Indy the ball at the
Tampa 41.

Seven plays later, Vinatieri made his fourth kick.

And then there was that leaping call.

Twelve years after that same penalty helped Indy pull off an
incredible Monday night comeback in overtime at Tampa, the Colts
took advantage of the same call again. This time, they pulled
Vinatieri’s field goal off the board and wound up getting the
clinching 3-yard TD pass from Hasselbeck to Hilton with 5:53 left.

”They said we used one of our guys as a brace,” Smith said.
”Good call.”

It was a nice finish to a strong day for Hasselbeck, who has done
more than just fill in with Andrew Luck recovering from a lacerated
kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle.

He’s thrived.

”We’re just playing team football and I’m just trying not to screw
it up,” Hasselbeck said. ”That’s all.”

NOTES: Martin’s long run put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the
season. … Indianapolis’ Donte Moncrief had eight catches for 114
yards. … Bucs linebacker Bruce Carter left with a concussion.
Smith declined to provide updates on any other injured players. …
Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman did not return after hurting his
hamstring and running back Ahmad Bradshaw left with a wrist injury.
… Former Colts players Reggie Wayne and Gary Brackett watched the
game together. Former Colts coach and broadcaster Ted Marchibroda
also attended the game.