(WFRV) – There were plenty of highs and lows in the Packers trip to Indianapolis. From the start they were able to get some key playmakers involved, but ultimately some costly mistakes came back to bite Green Bay.
In the first half Green Bay’s offense was cruising after putting 28 points on the board. Aaron Rodgers was able to get his tight ends involved early, starting with a touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan in the first quarter.
Then in the second quarter a completion to Jace Sternberger got Green Bay in position to allow Aaron Jones to score a 2 yard touchdown.
From there it was the Packers wide receivers that got Green Bay on the board. Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for a 14 yard score, and a deep ball to Marquez Valdes-Scantling helped draw a 51 yard pass interference penalty.
Jamaal Williams capped off the first half with a four yard touchdown grab, and Green Bay hung 28 points on the board in the first half against the NFL’s best defense.
“I feel like today, especially in the first half, I felt we were playing really good football in all three phases. I said it this week on Wednesday, I think what has been missing is all three phases kind of firing on every cylinder. It was nice to get Allen (Lazard) back today and Kevin King. We did have a couple injuries which hurt us but it felt more like we had more of all of our guys back, but I just think, third-quarter obviously hurt us. Like I said to, nothing really changed, but we have to find a way to convert in that situation and help our defense out because they were on the field a ton in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter,” said Aaron Rodgers.
The second half would be a different story for Green Bay.
Using the run game Indianapolis was able to get their offense going on the opening drive of the third quarter. Ultimately ending with a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal. It may not have done much on the score board, but the long drive kept Green Bay’s defense on the field.
“Yeah, it turned quickly. I think they started the second half with a seven-and-a-half minute drive. Then we went three-and-out, and then they went down and had another long drive and scored a touchdown. Then we went three-and-out again. It was the tale of two halves. The first half – there was a lot of great complementary football. The second half was the exact opposite. We got beat in every phase. Obviously, the kickoff return where we fumbled the football was a big point in the game as well. You just can’t do that stuff against a good team,” said head coach Matt LaFleur.
The Packers offense wasn’t able to help either. Rodgers and company were only able to run six plays in the third quarter.
“They brought maybe a couple more pressures. But yeah, nothing really different. The first one I thought ‘Quez (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) was expecting back shoulder. We weren’t on the same page and then the second one, the ball was tipped on a slant to ‘Te (Davante Adams). I don’t think there was a whole lot of change. They ran man coverage in the first half. We just missed out on opportunities in the third quarter,” said Rodgers.
Indianapolis kept wearing down the Packers defense, and a Philip Rivers to Jack Doyle touchdown seemed to flip the momentum and cut the deficit to just three.
After another Blankenship field goal Green Bay was in need of a long drive, but wouldn’t get the ball to their offense. Kick returner Darrius Shepherd was stripped on the ensuing kick-off, and set up Indianapolis with great field position.
Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor seemed to bust the game wide open with a twenty yard touchdown run, but it would be wiped out by a holding call. You’ll hear more about this in a little bit.
Ultimately Indianapolis had to settle for yet another Blankenship field goal, but this time to put the Colts in front.
On the ensuing drive Green Bay was able to get the offense going yet again, but faced a big decision with a fourth down in Colts territory. Head coach Matt LaFleur chose to go for it on fourth and one, but rather than running the ball, chose to have Rodgers drop back to pass. The leader of the Pack did get a look at Jamaal Williams, but the pass fell incomplete and Green Bay was running out of time.
Then came the holding calls against Indianapolis. In all the Colts were flagged for holding nine times on Sunday, and four on their final drive of regulation. Ultimately pushing Indianapolis out of field goal range, and forcing them to punt.
Green Bay had a shot with the ball at their own six yard line and a minute and 42 seconds to work with. Rodgers ate up a lot of that yardage with a deep ball to Valdes-Scantlng that was good for 47 yards. Just like that Green Bay was in Indianapolis territory.
A few passes over the middle to Davante Adams helped Green Bay get into position for at least a field goal, and a shot at the endzone. Rodgers pass to Adams in the final seconds fell incomplete, and they would have to settle for a game tying Mason Crosby field goal.
After a Tale of Two Halves it appeared the Packers may get a chance to leave Indianapolis with a victory after winning the toss. Then on a wide receiver screen Valdes-Scantling was stripped, and Indianapolis.
There wasn’t much more for the Colts to do other than have Blankenship split the uprights, and claim a 34-31 victory.
“That’s the only thing that does matter in the end, so we are disappointed. We don’t do a lot of the silver-lining losses. It’s about real critiques and we will get in the film room tomorrow and look at it. We will be really thorough in our critiques of ourselves. Give credit to our opponent, that’s a good defense. I thought we moved the ball great in the first half. Obviously, the third quarter was two three-and-outs. It wasn’t great but when we had to have it there at the end of the game, we moved the ball down in scoring position and tie it up. Timmy (Tim Boyle) finally won a coin toss, got the ball in overtime. Obviously, you know what happened at the end, so disappointing for sure. A good chance for us to take a three-game lead in the division but two games up. We have a big game coming up against Chicago,” said Rodgers.
“We’ve got to continue to get better and better and better and we know that. Every week has its new sets of challenges in this league and again, the one thing that I was so encouraged by was just the things that we emphasized all week. We got done in terms of practice – the energy, the effort, guys were locked in, they showed emotion and we needed that to continue in order for us to move forward as a football team,” said LaFleur.