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What we learned: Colts vs. Bucs

What did we learn after the Colts’ 38-31, Week 12 loss to Tampa Bay?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts are now 6-6 on the season after falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-31 on Sunday. Just as in previous games this season, Sunday brought an all too familiar feeling.

Here are my three big takeaways from Sunday’s loss.

  • Turnovers costly in Indy’s defeat:

No, the Colts didn’t lose Sunday because running back Jonathan Taylor didn’t get enough carries. Indy turned the football over five total times — four of which turned out to be very costly for them.

Turnovers were the key difference, as Tampa Bay scored 24 off Indy’s giveaways. Very few teams — if any — are going to be able to overcome that many mistakes. Each giveaway came at the most inopportune time, whether it was Zach Pascal fumbling inside the offenses own territory; Eric Fisher getting bullied by Shaq Barrett and leading to a strip-sack of quarterback Carson Wentz; or Nyheim Hines, who’s typically as sure-handed a running back as they come, muffing a punt which would eventually lead to the go-ahead touchdown for Tampa Bay, they were all equally disastrous.

  • Carson Wentz has strong day through the air:

When the running game wasn’t working, the Colts turned to quarterback Carson Wentz to try and get things going, and the veteran delivered. Wentz went 27-of-44 for 306 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. I’m not going to crush Wentz for the two turnovers. One was a last-ditch effort to try and tie the game, and the other could’ve been thrown slightly better to wideout Michael Pittman Jr., but not an awful decision.

Wentz’s strong performance wasn’t enough to overcome all of Indy’s turnovers. Even though the game wasn’t the result the Colts or their fans wanted, we shouldn’t overlook how exceptional Wentz was early on in Sunday’s game and that he was one of the main reasons the Colts’ offense had so much success throughout the game.

  • Colts’ inability to finish off opponent strikes again:

Indy led 24-14 at halftime and was driving with the chance of taking either a 13 or 17-point lead until Shaq Barrett got past Eric Fisher, leading to yet another costly turnover that the Bucs would capitalize on just a few plays later.

From that point, momentum seemed to shift in Tampa Bay’s favor. Even after turning the football over and handing Bucs’ quarterback Tom Brady a short field, Indy’s defense still couldn’t keep Tampa Bay — or running back Leonard Fournette — out of the end zone.

Sunday’s game was the third time this season where the Colts have had a double-digit lead at one point and couldn’t finish off their opponent. We can play the ‘what-if’ game all day long, but the reality is that Indy’s inability to finish off their opponents — like in crucial moments against the Titans, Ravens and Bucs — could be what costs them a chance at one of the wild card spots, come January.