In the first half the Green Bay Packers dominated the Indianapolis Colts. But poor decision-making and being outcoached, the Colts pulled away with the win during Sundayʼs game. (photo by Troy Sparks)
by Troy Sparks
Indianapolis – Another rookie quarterback hurt the Green Bay Packers down the stretch. First it was Seattle’s Russell Wilson with a late drive that denied the Pack their first road win of the season. Top overall pick Andrew Luck did it to the Packers again when his late game heroics rescued the Indianapolis Colts in a 29-27 win, Oct. 7, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It looked like Green Bay would hit the ground running and break the spirits of the Indy players, who played an inspired game for their head coach, Chuck Pagano who was recently diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. He will be out indefinitely. His replacement, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, took over the controls and actually outcoached Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy.
The loss by the Packers left them with a 2-3 record and some questions to answer after the first of three straight road games. Packer Nation wants to know what’s the problem in Titletown, who to point the finger at and how to get the team back on the winning track.
“It was a disappointing loss for us,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think we’re quite there where we need to be.”
Based on the fast start the Packers got in the first half, it appeared that all cylinders were firing and pointing to a blowout win.
The Packers drove the field and got a touchdown from fullback John Kuhn to take a 7-0 first quarter lead. Thousands of Packer backers were in the stadium chanting, “Kuuuun” after No. 30 crossed the end zone.
In the second quarter, quarterback Aaron Rodgers took the Pack down the field again and found receiver James Jones. You just had the feeling that after the Packers took a 14-0 lead that it would be a long day for the Colts.
A couple of big breaks came for Indy with the help of two huge defensive penalties on the Packers on their drive down the field later in the half. Rookie linebacker Nick Perry came through the line unblocked and rocked Luck so hard that he saw stars spinning in his head.
Unfortunately, Perry’s helmet connected to Luck’s facemask and he was called for a personal foul, which was a 15-yard penalty. It kept the drive alive for the Colts.
The pass interference call on cornerback Charles Woodson against Indy receiver Reggie Wayne, which gave the Colts the ball down at the Packers’ 6-yard line, was the best shot for the Colts to reach the end zone. Indy couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a field goal, trailing 14-3.
When Rodgers hit receiver Randall Cobb for his second passing TD of the half, you knew that the Packers were on a roll. Maybe they learned to put the game out of reach early to avoid anything late in the game that would decide the outcome like in the Seattle game. Green Bay took a 21-3 advantage into the locker room at the half.
“When you’re (ahead) 21-3 at halftime, you’re expected to keep that thing going,” McCarthy said. “That was our approach when we came out. We went to a couple of three and outs and it was downhill from there.”
The Colts finally played some ball with the Packers in the second half when they got some lucky breaks from the visitors who broke down on both sides of the ball. When it rained, it poured for the green and gold.
An interception by Rodgers in the third quarter turned into a Colts score when Luck hit tight end Dwayne Allen for a TD to cut the Green Bay lead to 21-10. After the Colts’ TD, confetti rained from the Lucas Oil Stadium ceiling as if the team won the Super Bowl or something.
The interception by Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams was challenged by the Colts because he one-handed the ball but couldn’t hold on to it as it hit the ground. The call was overturned. Adam Vinatieri’s 50-yard field goal put Indy within a TD and a two-point conversion reach of the Packers at 21-13.
When Luck ran for another TD, more confetti rained on the field. The Colts missed the two-point conversion as the Packers clung to a 21-19 lead. Vinatieri later made another field goal for a 22-21 Indy lead. After that meltdown, Packer Nation went, “Here we go again!”
Jones’ TD catch allowed Green Bay to regain a 27-22 lead, but the Packers left too much time on the clock and Luck pulled off a miracle comeback. When his scoring pass to Wayne with under a minute left in the game put the Colts ahead and Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby missed a game-winning field goal that went wide left, it was game, match, set for the now 2-2 Colts. The crowd chanted, “Reg-gie, Reg-gie!” Not bad for a team coming off a bye week.
The penalties and missed opportunities really hurt the Packers. “We’re not taking advantage of clean plays,” McCarthy said. “When you have a clean play, you expect execution and productivity. We didn’t get it done.”
Several chances for the Packers’ defense to capitalize on turnovers withered away. Besides the near interception by Williams, Luck fumbled on an attempted pass. Linebacker Clay Matthews tried to pick up the ball and run with it instead of just falling on it. The ball rolled out of bounds at the Indy 30. That was at least a field goal. Had the sack by Perry been clean, the Packers would have been in position to pad their lead in the first half. Clearly, they let some additional points get away.
The Packers lost three of their key players to injuries. Running back Cedric Benson suffered a foot injury, nose tackle B.J. Raji and tight end Jermichael Finley left the game with ankle and shoulder injuries, respectively.