Penalty-plagued Bucs can't protect Jameis Winston in loss to Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were poised to move into serious playoff contention, but they showed with their tendencies toward self-destruction Sunday that they aren't yet ready for prime-time competition.

The Bucs entered the game as the fourth-most penalized team in the NFL and no doubt will move "up" in that undesirable category after being called for 12 penalties for 95 yards in their 25-12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Bucs led 12-6 at halftime but were unable to contain the Colts' 40-year-old quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, and their own mistakes. Hasselbeck, the backup to injured starter Andrew Luck, picked apart their defense for 315 yards and two touchdowns, while the Bucs found ways to beat themselves.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston kept his team's hopes alive through three quarters before the penalties and lack of protection -- he was sacked five times -- caught up with him. He completed 20 of 36 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception on the Bucs' final drive.

What it means: Tampa Bay was trying to win its third consecutive game and third in its past four. The Bucs aimed to go over .500 for the first time since 2012 but dropped to 5-6. They will try to resume their momentum with home games against two teams they have already defeated on the road: Atlanta and New Orleans.

What were they thinking? The Bucs made a variety of boneheaded mistakes. One example: An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Logan Mankins on a missed field goal attempt set up the Colts' offense at the Bucs' 41-yard line. Indianapolis went on to convert a field goal for a 19-12 lead.

One reason to get excited: The Bucs play their next two games at home against teams they've already defeated. The playoffs are still a possibility.

One reason to panic: The offensive line that had done such a good job of protecting Winston and opening holes for Doug Martin took a step backward. Winston was sacked five times. Martin gained 97 yards on 14 carries but was not a factor in the second half.

Fantasy watch: Martin rushed for 235 yards last week, second most in franchise history, and gained 97 on Sunday -- but 56 of those yards came on one run in the first half.

Ouch: Defensive end Jacquies Smith suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. Defensive tackle Henry Melton was shaken up in the third quarter but walked off the field on his own and returned.

Pass defense: The Colts had a second-and-14 from the 50-yard line in the third quarter, but cornerback Sterling Moore was beaten for consecutive completions -- first to Donte Moncrief for 31 yards, then to T.Y. Hilton for 19 and a touchdown that gave the Colts their first touchdown and a 16-12 lead.