While it wasn’t quite as ugly as the game against the Titans, this wasn’t the Mona Lisa, either. The Bucs, who saw many of their starters play for the first time this postseason, fell to the Colts 27-10 in the final preseason game. This brings the Bucs’ preseason record to 0-3 and it also marks the Colts’ fourth consecutive preseason win over Tampa Bay as these two met in the preseason for the first time since 1989.
Tom Brady was a little off during the Bucs’ opening drive, but was aided by a defensive pass interference by his former teammate Stephon Gilmore. The Bucs were able to extend the drive and Brady would then complete six consecutive passes only to see the drive stall inside the Colts’ 15-yard line and Tampa was forced to settle for a 30-yard Ryan Succop field goal. That was all Todd Bowles and the Bucs needed to see from their starters as Brady, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and the rest of the crew were done for the night.
Defensively, the Bucs stood tall on their first crack at things. A key sack by Lavonte David led to a 3rd-and-17 then a punt following a disappointing opening drive for the Indianapolis starters.
While the Colts’ offensive starters, sans Jonathan Taylor, stayed on the field longer than the Bucs, they weren’t able to generate a ton while they were there. It was the starters that put the Colts up 7-3, but that was on their third possession.
However, the big news of the night was the injury suffered by starting center Robert Hainsey. Hainsey, in the second quarter, had his leg rolled up on by guard Nick Leverett and was immediately ruled out for the remainder of the game. The Bucs were able to take a 10-7 lead on that drive, but Hainsey’s injury was cause for concern. After leaving the medical tent, Hainsey’s right ankle was heavily taped but he was walking around and putting weight on the ankle - a very positive sign. Nick Leverett would later leave the game and not return due to a shoulder injury.
The running back competition got pretty interesting. While rookie Rachaad White couldn’t get anything going - thanks in large part to poor offensive line play - Ke’Shawn Vaughn looked outstanding. Vaughn finished with nine carried for 36 yards and a touchdown, including a long of fourteen yards. White was only able to muster nine yards on six carries.
Wide receiver Scotty Miller didn’t help his case very much as the battle for the final wide receiver spots played out. Miller had one reception on two targets for a one yard loss. A sure first down catch hit Miller in the hands and fell incomplete. Meanwhile, Tyler Johnson continued to shine and preseason standout Deven Thompkins saw some time at returner in addition to his receiver work.
In the second half, it was all Colts - who came out swinging from the jump. After a 53-yard kickoff return, third string quarterback Sam Ehlinger scrambled 45 yards and got into the end zone to take a 21-10 lead. On the following drive, the Colts moved the ball with ease - including a 38-yard catch and run by Dezmon Patmon - but were forced to settle for a field goal after a holding call stalled the drive.
One bright spot for the Bucs in the second half was the play of Kyle Trask, who seems to be getting better by the week. He made some fantastic decisions, put the ball in places it needed to be, and kept his eye downfield when moving around to avoid pressure. Now, he didn’t always capitalize on these opportunities, but he seems to be seeing the field better as well as gaining that pocket presence that was non-existent against the Miami Dolphins. Trask finished the night 7/10 for 96 yards and no touchdowns or turnovers.
While there was some optimism for the young kicker Jose Borregales, it doesn’t look like he will be making the roster over incumbent veteran Ryan Succop. Borregales missed his second field goal of the preseason, this time wide right from 52 yards out. While the Bucs protected Borregales on the practice squad all season last year, it doesn’t appear he’s made the leap to become the new kicker in Tampa Bay.
For a lot of players that were in battles for roster spots, there weren’t really any standouts on Saturday night. No receivers outside of Tyler Johnson were very noticeable, no defensive backs stood up and made any big plays, there weren’t any linebackers that popped on the field. Overall, it’s really hard to say if there were any bubble players that lost - or gained - any ground based on Saturday’s game.