INDIANAPOLIS – The Green Bay Packers paid a dear price for failing to put away the Indianapolis Colts, losing 30-27 on rookie quarterback Andrew Luck’s comeback and Mason Crosby’s missed field goal.
Trailing 22-21 and with nothing going right, Green Bay’s defense got a key three-and-out, the Packers got excellent field position and Alex Green broke off a 41-yard run on a draw. On the next play, Rodgers found James Jones for an 8-yard touchdown. The two-point play failed, but the Packers had a 27-22 lead with 4:30 remaining.
The Packers, however, had no answers for Luck and receiver Reggie Wayne, who finished with 212 yards. Completions of 15 and 12 yards to Wayne moved the Colts to the Packers’ 45. An incomplete pass and a tackle for loss by D.J. Smith set up a third-and-12 at the two-minute warning. Luck shook off a sure sack by Clay Matthews and hit Wayne for the first down, then hit him again to get to the 14. On third-and-7, Luck scrambled to the 4, with a replay challenge stopping the clock with 39 seconds to go. Luck hit Wayne for the touchdown on a quick pass against Tramon Williams, giving the Colts a 28-27 lead, and Donald Brown tacked on the two-point conversion.
The Packers got the ball at their 20 with two timeouts remaining. Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for 7 yards and then for 26 more, with Cobb stepping out of bounds at the Colts’ 47 with 25 seconds to go. Forgotten Donald Driver made a 14-yard catch to the 33, with Rodgers clocking the ball with 8 seconds to go. The Packers inexplicably ran out of time on the play clock and had to burn their final timeout. Forced to try a 51-yard field goal at that point, Crosby shanked his kick to the left.
The Colts, trailing 21-19, had momentum early in the fourth quarter but were on the wrong end of two huge plays. The first came on second-and-4 at the Packers’ 49, when Donnie Avery got wide open deep against Sam Shields but Luck couldn’t connect. Then, on third-and-4, Luck went deep up the sideline to Reggie Wayne but was intercepted on blanket coverage by Casey Hayward.
The Packers’ offense was horrible in the second half as they couldn’t do a thing with Cedric Benson (ankle) and Jermichael Finley (shoulder) joining inactive Greg Jennings (groin) as spectators. Between taking a 21-3 lead and falling behind 22-21, the Packers managed just four first downs. They got a fifth first down on a 24-yard catch-and-run by James Jones to midfield but the drive ended in back-to-back sacks. The first of those was a coverage sack as the Packers simply couldn’t get open against a secondary without top cornerback Vontae Davis.
In the first half, when the Packers rampaged to a 21-3 lead that should have been more, it was apparent why Green Bay had the most regular-season wins last year and the Colts had the fewest.
While Aaron Rodgers thrived behind superb pass protection – except when he missed Jordy Nelson for what should have been a 67-yard touchdown -- the Packers’ defense delivered a beating to No. 1 overall draft pick Luck.
The Packers led despite being outgained 208-179 and losing the time-of-possession battle by almost 6 minutes. Why? Because the Packers made almost all of the key plays. While Rodgers wasn’t touched, Luck was sacked four times. On third down, the Packers converted 3-of-6 while the Colts were just 3-of-11.
Green Bay took a 7-0 lead on John Kuhn’s 2-yard touchdown run, which was set up by a rare sight – a perfectly executed screen, which Cedric Benson turned into an 18-yard gain to move the ball to the 2.
The lead was extended to 14-0 on the next possession when Rodgers hit James Jones for a 6-yard score. An 18-yard completion to Randall Cobb and an 18-yard gain coming from a 3-yard completion to Cedric Benson and an unnecessary roughness call put them into scoring position.
The Colts pulled within 14-3 but the Packers answered immediately as Rodgers and Cobb connected again. On third-and-5, Cobb beat Jerraud Powers then accelerated past safety Antoine Bethea for a 32-yard touchdown.
Green Bay could have put the game away late in the first half, with Mike McCarthy conserving time by calling timeout on Eric Walden’s sack and getting the offense the ball at the 43 with 1:17 to go. However, Nelson dropped a pass on second-and-4 and Jermichael Finley dropped a pass on third-and-4.
The Packers had another chance to put the game away by getting the ball coming out of intermission. Instead, Rodgers was intercepted on third-and-2, and the Colts turned the short field into a touchdown when Luck scrambled for a first down on third down before hitting rookie Dwayne Allen for the score. The Packers’ third consecutive three-and-out set up an Indianapolis field goal, further cutting the margin to 21-13.
The Green Bay offense finally got something going but Mason Crosby missed wide right from 52 yards. The Colts scored another touchdown, thanks to a horrendous pass interference penalty on Sam Shields giving them 25 gift yards. Moments later, Luck scored from 3 yards on a third-down quarterback draw. Interim Colts coach went for two but Charles Woodson broke up a pass to Reggie Wayne with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.