Tha Sports Junkies 101

Rodgers Late-Game Comeback Falls Short Against Luck And The Colts

Luck - NFL micklobbs via flickr


Luck Does Just Enough to Beat Rodgers, Packers

Jordan Todman delivered an early haymaker to the jaw of every single player and fan on Sunday’s opening kick-off in the Indianapolis’ (4-5) 31-26 win over Green Bay (4-4). In the 13 seconds it took Todman to dart down the right side of the field for his 99 yard touchdown return, the energy seemed to be let out of Lambeau. Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck would later bring the final knockout blow.

It used to be that a Packers‘ win at home was so certain, an opening play like Todman’s return would’ve not deterred the hope of anyone cheering for the Green and Gold. There was a belief that no matter the circumstance, Green Bay could pull it out.

As Sunday proved, this is no longer the case.

In fact, after the Packers went 37-2 at home from 2010 until last season’s week seven bye, which they entered 6-0 (4-0 home), they have gone 4-5 at Lambeau.

However, all was not lost after the Colts opening play, as the Green Bay defense did provide ample chances for the offense to sway the game’s momentum in the first half. This was mostly thanks to safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix.

Clinton-Dix picked off Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck twice in the first quarter, both times putting an end to potential game-changing drives. 

On his first interception, Clinton-Dix took advantage of a poorly thrown pass, Luck’s first attempt of the game after Todman’s return, and was able to take the ball back 20 yards into Colts territory.

The pick came with his team down 7-3 and in need of a spark, unfortunately the offense couldn’t capitalize. Instead they responded in a way that perfectly summarizes their season. Three straight negative plays and a missed field goal from Mason Crosby.

Aaron Rodgers completed 2 of 3 passes for a total of -1 yards on two screen passes to receiver Davante Adams and a dropped pass from tight-end Richard Rodgers.

Unlike Green Bay, Indianapolis used the Packers’ mistake and cashed in for points just seven plays later as Colts running back Frank Gore, who rushed for 60 yards on 19 attempts, was able to score his first of two touchdowns on the day from seven yards out.

The Packers offense again stalled on their next possession. Down 14-3, it was time for Clinton-Dix to make another big play. 

After the Green Bay pass rush forced Luck out of the pocket, he tossed an off balance throw over the head of his tight-end Jack Doyle and into the hands of Clinton-Dix for his second interception. He was able to tap his feet in-bounds before sprinting into the Packers bench in celebration.

This time around, the Packers were able to translate his pick into points.

On the last play of the 1st quarter, Rodgers drew an offside penalty resulting in a free play. As he often does in these situations, he was able to make something happen and find Jordy Nelson in the endzone for six. Nelson fought off Colts corner Darius Butler in mid-air to come down with a tremendous catch and bring the Packers within striking distance down 14-10.

Unable to grasp the momentum and run with it, Green Bay then allowed the Colts to outscore them 10-0 in the second quarter.

Indianapolis’ final drive of the half was yet another blow to the morale of the Lambeau faithful. 

Only down seven, Packers punter Jacob Schum pinned the Colts at their own four yard line with five minutes remaining. The Nelson touchdown brought things closer,  and one more stop and a two-minute drill would’ve put Green Bay in the drivers seat.

Instead, Luck preceded to lead his team on a 15 play, 96 yard drive resulting in his first touchdown of the game with under 20 seconds remaining.

After a first down on a third-and-one bootleg scramble with 37 seconds left, Luck found Donte Moncrief two plays later in the endzone after he gained separation from Packers corner Ladarious Gunter. Gunter was overmatched completely on Sunday, despite coming in with two straight solid performances.

According to PFF, Gunter was the lowest graded player on the Packers defense. He gave up a perfect passer rating of 158.3, allowing seven catches on seven passes for 107 yards and the Moncrief touchdown.

The Colts entered half-time leading 24-10 over the home team.

In the first half, Aaron Rodgers was only able to complete 7 of 17 passes for 77 yards, 26 of those coming on Nelson’s touchdown.

He came out on the second half’s first possession and looked like his old self, finding his target on 4 of his first 5 passes for 40 yards. Then Darius Butler, who he had previously beaten for a touchdown, perfectly read a pass over the middle to Davante Adams for an interception.

And again, momentum gone.

Indianapolis would score what seemed to be a dagger with about 10 minutes remaining on Frank Gore’s second touchdown run of the night, making the score 31-13.

Thanks to a bump in crowd energy partly caused by a runaway squirrel, now dubbed “Lambeau Squirrel”, the Packers weren’t quite done yet.

First, Rodgers’ found Davante Adams on a 40-yard completion when the corner assigned to him slipped. This set up a 2-yard touchdown pass to Adams on an inside slant. Indianapolis corner Patrick Robinson swatted down the attempted two-point conversion, leaving the score 31-19.

Green Bay forced a quick three-and-out thanks in large part to a tackle for loss by second year linebacker Jake Ryan, who led the game with 11 tackles and provided some much needed fire. He was graded out by PFF as the 11th best player at inside linebacker this week, finishing with a final grade of 83.7.

After a touchback on a booming punt from Pat McAfee, Rodgers would stay hot, completing 7 of 7 passes on an 80-yard scoring drive. Culminating with a touchdown to receiver Randall Cobb to make the score 31-26 with 3:29 left.

Rodgers would end the game 26 of 43 (60.5%) for 297 yards and three touchdowns after having only 169 yards and one touchdown through three quarters.

Just like it did last week against Atlanta, ultimately the game rested on the shoulders of the Packers defense. Also like last week, they came up just short.

The Colts only needed a few first downs to close out the game, but didn’t make it easy on themselves. After a gain of one and a Packers timeout on first, the Colts threw on second down resulting in an incompletion and a time stoppage.

On perhaps the games biggest play, a third-and-9, Luck barely escaped a sack attempt from Clinton-Dix and threw a strike to Jack Doyle for a gain of 20 and a first down. Had Clinton-Dix been able to bring Luck down, it seems the outcome of the game may have been much different.

Two plays later on third-and-2, Luck gracefully dropped a pass to receiver T.Y. Hilton over the top of Ladarious Gunter for 27 yards and a game-clincher.

The Packers near sack of Luck on third down was symbolic of the game as a whole. Green Bay’s defense maintained steady pressure on the Colts’ quarterback all night, recording 17 hurries, but only managed two sacks.

Green Bay stands at 4-4, but should be 6-2. It’s sad to see a team with such potential fall short in so many close games, but it may bring about change and new motivation. It’s obvious since Josh Sitton’s departure before the season that something is at least in need of realignment inside this Packers organization.

They will travel to Nashville next Sunday in search of answers, but will be facing a very skilled Titans team that certainly will be no walk in the park. With the Vikings falling and the Lions surging, they better figure out a way to “Make The Packers Great Again” before it’s too late.