Garcon lives up to advance billing
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune, published 4 October 2011

All week long, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talked up Pierre Garcon as a dangerous complement to Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Much to their dismay, they were correct.

Garcon, a fourth-year pro, burned Tampa Bay for two long touchdown catches on a national stage as the Bucs and Colts met in a tight "Monday Night Football" matchup before the Bucs pulled out a 24-17 triumph.

Third-string quarterback Curtis Painter was impressive in his first NFL start, finding the 25-year-old Garcon streaking down the right sideline for an 87-yard score in the second quarter that put the Colts ahead 10-0. In the third quarter, Garcon caught a harmless-looking pass in the right flat and turned it into a dazzling 59-yard touchdown that snapped a 10-10 deadlock.

"Painter made a lot of quick throws and he didn't play as badly as you would expect from a first-time starter," said Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber. "Garcon looks like the guy with all the juice. He took two simple throws and made touchdowns out of them."

Garcon's first score of the season marked the longest completion against the Bucs in 16 years, and the second-longest by an opponent in franchise history. The longest pass play against the Bucs came on Dec. 23, 1996, when Detroit's Scott Mitchell hit Brett Perriman for a 91-yard touchdown.

Painter, subbing for injured quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Kerry Collins, found Garcon in stride at the Colts 33 and Garcon eluded Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib at the Indianapolis 40 before racing into the end zone untouched to complete the 87-yard play. "Pierre Garcon ain't no slouch," Talib said. "Painter put the ball in there in the hole. I've got to get him (Garcon) down, that's all on me. That should have been a 20-yard gain."

Indy's previous long play from scrimmage this season was a 36-yard pass from Collins to Wayne in the opener at Houston. Garcon's second touchdown of the season was an outstanding individual effort as he cut back across the field and scored standing up with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter. En route to the end zone, Garcon appeared to catch half of Tampa Bay's defense out of position and he was also aided by some key blocks.

While Garcon starred in the highlight-film plays, tight end Dallas Clark and Wayne also contributed key receptions for the Colts, who entered Raymond James Stadium as winless 10-point underdogs.

Painter protected the ball well, even as Tampa Bay's young defensive line applied consistent pressure. He had Indianapolis in position to break a 17-17 deadlock early in the fourth quarter, only to see Adam Vinatieri hook a 43-yard field goal attempt barely wide left. Painter shrugged off four sacks to throw for 281 yards and he wasn't intercepted, although several Buc defenders dropped potential picks.