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Hasselbeck and Colts roll past Tampa Bay

The Colts improved to 4-0 with Matt Hasselbeck as a starter with a win over Tampa Bay The Colts improved to 4-0 with Matt Hasselbeck as a starter with a win over Tampa Bay

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- 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.

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"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."

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