The Green Bay Packers played perhaps their worst half of football in the Mike McCarthy era and lost a game they could ill afford to lose — to the Indianapolis Colts, 30-27.
12:25, 1st quarter — The Colts become the first opponent to get a 1st down on their opening possession of the game, but they can’t get a second and punt the ball.
The Packers open the game in their base defense, which seems to be a trend, but is surprising considering the Colts’ obvious lack of a threatening running game.
The Colts are in hurry-up this entire drive and that appears key to picking up the 1st down. Tramon Williams isn’t even lined up for the 3rd down play when Andrew Luck snaps the ball and wings it to Reggie Wayne. Wayne gets an easy 19 yards against off and late coverage by Williams.
The Colts fail to convert their next 3rd down when the Packers blitz A.J. Hawk up the middle. Hawk immediately applies pressure, and Luck tries the quick slant to Donnie Avery. Erik Walden, dropping into coverage, bats the ball down, but a more athletic or aware player could have easily picked the ball off and taken it up the sideline.
9:15, 1st quarter — The Packers also convert on their first 3rd down — a 3rd-and-5 — when Aaron Rodgers takes off from a stable pocket and picks up an easy 15 yards. Nice gain, but it’s kind of alarming when your QB has to run for the 1st down against a defense missing two of its starting DBs.
Cedric Benson carries twice over Marshall Newhouse for four yards, bringing up a 3rd-and-6. The Colts play press coverage with one safety WAY deep and a linebacker dropping into the short middle of the field.
As disappointing as this play is in real time, it’s doubly sickening on the coach’s film. Not only is Jordy Nelson open for a TD up the near sideline, but EVERY receiver is open. Rodgers overthrows Nelson and the Packers punt.
4:40, 1st quarter — The Colts drive to the Packers’ 43 before getting stuffed on 4th down.
The Packers play their nickel defense this entire drive. The Colts offense has the crisp look that you want coming back from your bye, even with the Packers getting a pretty good push on passing downs.
The longest play of the drive comes on a 14-yard Donald Brown scamper around Walden’s end. Walden got dominated by tight end Dwayne Allen while D.J. Smith hesitated at the line of scrimmage instead of getting upfield to set the edge. Brown easily goes around him for 14 yards.
The Colts went for it on 4th and a couple inches. B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Jerel Worthy line up right over the ball and submarine the offensive line while Smith and Hawk jump over the top to stuff Luck for a loss. Packers’ ball at their 43.
2:10, 1st quarter — The Packers go 57 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead.
The drive is keyed by an easy 19-yard completion to Nelson on a comeback route and an 18-yard screen play, where Benson did well to cut back off of decent blocks by Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga.
John Kuhn scored on 1st down from the 2. See, that play CAN work.
0:20, 1st quarter — The Colts go three and out thanks to a Sam Shields’ tackle short of the 1st down on 3rd and 5.
12:25, 2nd quarter — The Packers go 65 yards in eight plays to take a 14-0 lead and this is looking like the game Packers fans expected.
The drive starts with a 12-yard completion to Nelson on the same comeback route that netted 19 a drive earlier. Shortly after, Randall Cobb runs a quick cross up the middle of the field and Rodgers hits him for 18 yards.
After a 3-yard run by Benson, Rodgers dumps it to Benson for 3. Unfortunately, on the otherwise benign play, the tackling Colts linebacker rolled over Benson’s foot as it was in the upraised position. Benson would next be seen on a cart.
A 15-yard unnecessary roughness on the same play moved the ball to the Colts’ 15. From there, Alex Green started impressively with a 9-yard run up the middle. Then Rodgers rolled right and found James Jones for a 6-yard TD catch.
11:30, 2nd quarter — The Packers send Sam Shields off the edge. The Colts get confused and allow Nick Perry a free run to Luck. Perry levels Luck, causing a fumble that is recovered by D.J. Smith at the Colts’ 12. Not the referee standing five feet away, but the back judge calls an unnecessary roughness penalty on Perry. The Colts get the ball, plus 15 yards.
McCarthy is irate. He says after the game that it was explained as a “crown of the helmet” hit, and therefore supposedly the right call. He will not agree upon seeing the tape. This is actually a textbook hit by Perry, who drives his facemask into Luck’s chest as you’re taught from Pop Warner up.
However, zero surprise there is a flag here. Official rules aside, basically anytime your helmet touches the QB you can expect a flag. I would suggest going for the BALL and not the QB on a clear shot like this. Perry could have easily just swatted the ball out of Luck’s hands, causing the same result with no chance for a penalty. Unfortunately, my suggestions mean nothing.
The Colts would punt anyway after a 3rd-and-12 where Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson have Reggie Wayne double covered and lose an interception by colliding with each other.
9:30, 2nd quarter — The Packers go three and out. On 1st down they hand off to Green around the left end. The run is going places, except Donald Driver neither blocks his man nor gets out of Green’s way and it turns into a 1-yard gain. On 2nd-and-9 the Colts are in press man coverage again. Driver runs the perfect route against the coverage — the out and up from the slot. Rodgers hits him right in the chest with the ball and he drops it. Then, on 3rd-and-9, Nelson runs a simple comeback route against off coverage on the left. Rodgers throws it high and Nelson can’t leap to catch it.
These last two plays almost perfectly sum up the Packers’ pass offense so far this year. First, a receiver drops a perfectly thrown ball and then Rodgers throws it off the mark. All we needed was a sack and you could have called it a night.
6:25, 2nd quarter — The Colts drive for a short field goal thanks to two catches by Wayne.
The first is a 29-yard reception, where the Packers blitzed six, including Woodson, leaving Jerron McMillian and Morgan Burnett to cover Wayne. McMillian fares poorly and Wayne is wide open. The second is a 30-yard, one-handed catch by Wayne on 3rd-and-6. The Packers blitzed again, leaving Woodson alone in coverage. This is just a great catch, even though an erroneous pass interference call on Woodson would have given the Colts the same result.
The Packers played good defense at the 6, including 2nd and 3rd down plays by Burnett and Walden, to force the field goal — 14-3.
4:20, 2nd quarter — The Packers quickly go 66 yards in just five plays to go up 21-3.
On the first play of the drive, Rodgers went play action and threw into double coverage for Nelson. The Packers were fortunate to get a pass interference call for 30 yards, which put the ball at Colts’ 36.
Three plays later, Cobb ran an in from the slot and splits the defense for a 31-yard TD. This play shows the weakness of press coverage. If the pass beats the defender, the safety has too much ground to cover to stop the play from going to the house.
That would conclude the scoring for the half. The Colts would have a long drive stopped by a Mike Neal sack and then the Packers would fail to score with the ball at midfield when Nelson and Jermichael Finley drop passes on consecutive plays.
The Packers defense has been keyed by good pressure and being tough against the run. The offense has moved the ball, as long as Rodgers was accurate and the receivers caught the ball. The offense moved seamlessly with Alex Green in the game, not showing any apparent difference without Benson.
13:24, 3rd quarter — The second half starts exactly how the Colts would have drawn it up, as Rodgers throws an INT on the fourth play.
After a holding call on the first play of the 2nd half, Rodgers does well to get it to 3rd-and-2. The play call on 3rd-and-2 is a quick screen to Cobb up top. It is set up perfectly and looks like an easy 1st down and likely more. EXCEPT, Rodgers ignores the designed play and decides to fire the back-shoulder to James Jones. Rodgers said Robert Mathis tipped the pass at the line. This is impossible to tell on the replay. Regardless, the ball ends up too far downfield, and Jerron Powers makes a nice interception.
Rodgers is VERY GLAD to have Mike McCarthy as his head coach. I can’t imagine what some coaches would think of their QB ignoring the called play and throwing a pick on the other side. Mike Ditka would have had a heart attack right there.
11:10, 3rd quarter — The Colts score a TD off the INT to make it 21-10.
Immediately following the interception, Luck hit Wayne on a crossing route for 18 yards. Williams is in man-to-man coverage and he is so far off that he’s a non-factor even with the ball thrown well behind Wayne.
On 2nd-and-10 from the 21, D.J. Smith has Vick Ballard in the backfield for a loss until he hesitates at the line of scrimmage and allows the offensive lineman to get into position to block him. Ballard goes for 7. On 3rd-and-3, Smith stumbles over his own feet, Walden falls down rounding the corner and Luck runs for a 1st down.
On the very next play, the Colts barely get the play off in time and yet, it appears that the Packers defense was unprepared. Walden lets Allen run right by him for an easy TD.
10:15, 3rd quarter — The Packers go three and out again. On 1st down, Rodgers has Jones open on the comeback, but fails to connect. On 2nd down, Rodgers can stand in the pocket and eat a sandwich if he wants. Instead, he tries to escape to his left and runs right into the arms of Cory Redding. On 3rd down, the Colts only rush two. That seems insane against a QB the quality of Rodgers, but Rodgers forgets where the line of scrimmage is and crosses it before throwing incomplete 30 yards downfield to Jermichael Finley. Finley is hurt on the play or just throwing in the towel. Not sure which.
7:45, 3rd quarter — The Colts get a field goal to make it a one-score game at 21-13.
On this drive the Colts don’t even need to throw the ball. They suddenly find the running game that the Packers had throttled up to this point. Three times, Donald Brown runs round the right end, opposite of Matthews, for 10 yards. The 2011 Erik Walden is back — he fails to set the edge on two of the three runs. Nick Perry falls victim on the other, though, at least he was rather egregiously held on his play.
Fortunately, the Colts decide to throw the ball three times in a row and get stopped. On the second passing attempt, Tramon Williams appears to make a diving interception, but after careful review of the film, I have to agree with the replay official — no catch. Besides the fact, Williams was holding the receiver during the entire route.
Adam Vinatieri kicks a 50-yard field goal from two yards short of the exact spot where Mason Crosby would later perform a shank.
3:20, 3rd quarter — The Packers offense would drive to the Colts’ 34-yard line, where Crosby would miss a 52-yard field goal and a chance to change the momentum.
This drive would feature a sudden appearance by D.J. Williams, who gets two catches for 20 yards and a nifty 3rd-and-1 flip to Alex Green that not only gets the 1st down, but picks up 15 yards on a horse-collar tackle.
The drive killer was a 2nd-and-10 play from the Colts’ 38. Green is supposed to get around the left end. It appears that Ryan Taylor is supposed to join Tom Crabtree in a double-team on Dwight Freeney before releasing to lead Green around the end. Taylor never touches Freeney, however, and ends up blocking no one. Green foolishly tries to run around Freeney instead of cutting inside and getting a yard or two. Green ends up running right into linebacker Kavell Connor, who ran right by Marshall Newhouse to drop Green for a 4-yard loss.
Faced with 3rd-and-14, Rodgers did well to dump it to Jones for 8 yards to at least give Crosby the chance. Unfortunately, Crosby has a career accuracy rate of 79 percent, which is fifth-worst among veteran kickers, and we’ve seen that rate drops considerably inverse to the importance of the kick.
0:23, 3rd quarter — The Colts take the great field position provided by Crosby’s miss and drive 58 yards for a TD to make it 21-19. By far the biggest play of the drive was a 25-yard pass interference call on Sam Shields, where not only did no interference occur, but no one seemed to notice that the ball landed five yards out of bounds, clearly uncatchable.
Otherwise, the Colts threw two 10-yard passes to Dwayne Allen — one against the zone where Perry and Woodson both took the flat and neither took Allen and one beating D.J. Smith in man coverage where Smith had excellent position, but never turned to look for the ball.
After stiffening again near the goal line, the Packers gave up the TD on a QB draw on 3rd-and-goal. If Luck follows his pulling guard, he likely walks in. Instead, he runs the opposite way and Matthews has him dead to rights. Matthews dives and misses and Luck scores.
I’m stunned by this. I have seen Clay Matthews stone big-time running backs in this situation and yet, here, somehow, Luck gets right by him for the score. Matthews would call Luck “slippery” afterward. Yeah, I guess.
14:30, 4th quarter — The Packers go three and out AGAIN to put their defense right back on the field.
It’s a draw to Green on 1st down, in what looks like a good running situation with only six Colts in the box and six blockers. No one gets much of a push, but Green can still stick it in there for a couple yards. Instead, he tries to hop to the outside at the last second and trips over Crabtree for a 2-yard loss. After a couple good runs in the first half, Green has been a disaster in the second, and like McCarthy, I’m starting to doubt the wisdom of running the ball at all at this point.
On 2nd down, Rodgers has D.J. Williams open over the middle in a tight window with the safety closing. Rodgers either misjudges Williams’ speed or his height. It’s overthrown.
On 3rd-and-12, the Colts send five. Kuhn feels good enough about the blocking that he slips out of the backfield. Rodgers can dump it to Kuhn or escape the pocket to the right after Robert Mathis runs himself around the edge. Instead, Rodgers picks the wrong time to step up in the pocket. Freeney is overpowering Newhouse and collapses on Rodgers once he steps inside. Punt.
13:08, 4th quarter — It’s even a bad punt and the Colts get to start from their 45.
It doesn’t matter, as the defense comes up with a HUGE stop. On 3rd-and-4, the Packers blitz six. Perry gets pressure on Luck, who tries the out and up to Wayne. Hey, we found a way to stop Wayne. It’s called Casey Hayward. Hayward picks the pass to give the Packers offense another shot.
11:35, 4th quarter — For two plays it looks like the momentum might have turned. Rodgers scrambles to midfield following the INT.
Too bad that illusion would be dispelled the following play. The Packers are in the offset with Ryan Taylor lined up behind Crabtree on the right end and Green deep. Before the snap, Rodgers tells Taylor to shift to the other side. Taylor does. This leaves Crabtree alone with Robert Mathis. Rodgers fakes the handoff to Green and gets immediately swamped by Mathis who quickly ran around Crabtree. Meanwhile, Taylor essentially does nothing on the other side.
Now badly needing yards on 2nd down, Rodgers throws the quick out to D.J. Williams who lets it go right through his hands. On 3rd down, the Colts only rush three. Rodgers can recite a sonnet back there, but he runs to his right and finally scrambles for 9 yards. A pass to Crabtree in the right flat, right in front of Rodgers, probably would have gotten that same distance or more.
8:00, 4th quarter — The Colts drive 75 yards in eight plays to kick a 28-yard field goal and take a 22-21 lead.
On the first play of the drive, the Packers apparently think the Colts will run and are actually in their base defense. As we saw all last year, the Colts recognize this and fake the run. Matthews drops into the flat to cover and now the Packers only have four guys rushing against five and zone defense on the back end. Unfortunately, the Packers don’t cover well in zone. Wayne easily beats Williams to the middle of the field and catches the ball for a 26-yard play.
The next play, the Packers are back in their nickel and the Colts run Brown around the left end. Again D.J. Smith is in position to make a play on Brown, but hesitates at the line and allows Brown to get around him for 10 yards Every big running play has been around Smith’s end. He’s having a miserable game.
Sam Shields pets Brown’s facemask on the way by and 15 yards are added on for good measure. Just like that, in two plays the Colts have gone from their own 15 to the Packers’ 35.
The Colts go play action again. Luck eludes Smith in the pocket, rolls to his left, and fires 26 yards downfield to T.Y. Hilton, who is working the zone between Williams and Woodson. Woodson could have picked the ball if he took a more aggressive line, but instead, Hilton jumps in front of him for the catch. The Colts are the ones making all the plays.
The Packers defense tightened up again inside the 10, forcing the field goal. In fact, on 2nd down, Luck foolishly throws back across the middle toward the back of the end zone. Williams closes and has the ball hit him right in the hands. He drops it. The Colts kick the field goal.
5:55, 4th quarter — Again, the Packers get to midfield on the first play of a drive, as Rodgers throws a simple skinny post to Jones. Jones runs to the middle of the field and then runs through a couple tacklers to the 50.
Green runs behind Bulaga for 5 and it’s looking like maybe the Packers can get something going.
Wrong. On the next play, the Colts rush five. Cobb runs the post from the slot and has a TD, as the safety in coverage stumbles. Rodgers hangs onto it instead. D.J. Williams and Jones are both open around the first-down marker. Rodgers hangs onto it instead. Moise Fukou finally gets around Newhouse and sacks Rodgers.
I have no clue what Rodgers is doing on this play. It has to be his worst play of the game, probably even worse than the interception where he inexplicably ignored the play call.
On 3rd-and-16 the Colts send five again. Everyone does their job on the outside. Too bad Josh Sitton lets Cory Redding stunt across his face without touching him. Jeff Saturday was preparing for the smaller linebacker coming on the blitz and gets caught completely off guard by Redding. Redding dumptrucks Saturday and sacks Rodgers. Nothing Rodgers could do this time. That one is on the line.
4:30, 4th quarter — After forcing a three and out keyed by a punt downed at the 6, the Packers score in two plays to take a 27-22 lead.
The ensuing punt, after another key defensive stop, put the Packers at the Colts’ 49. On 1st down, the Packers lined up in the inverted wishbone — my favorite running formation. Green followed Taylor through the hole and juked both safeties on his way to the right sideline. His 41-yard run set up the Packers at the Colts’ 8.
Wasting no time, the Packers ran the famous fake the run and throw to the back of the end zone play that Dallas has especially loved to run with Tony Romo. Rodgers throws a properly elevated and accurate pass to Jones for the TD.
The Packers try for what would be a huge two-point conversion. Rodgers rolls to his right and throws a pass at Driver that he has no chance to catch. The Packers almost seem oblivious to how important these conversions are. Once Rodgers got to the flat, the conversion should have been nearly assured. There was only a linebacker between Rodgers and the end zone and that linebacker was covering Alex Green. If the linebacker stays on Green, Rodgers runs it in. If he comes off Green, you simply throw Green the ball. The linebacker came off Green to stop Rodgers from running. Rodgers threw Driver the ball as Green stood uncovered at the goal line.
00:39, 4th quarter — The Colts go 80 yards for the go-ahead TD and take up virtually the rest of the time doing so.
Going into the drive, Andrew Luck was 0-8 on his last eight 3rd downs. He converted three huge ones on this drive and the Colts never even faced a 4th down.
The 3rd-and-9 from the 21 was huge because the Colts likely would have punted rather than attempt 4th down here. On that play, the Packers rushed four and the four rushers got themselves in an awful box formation that left a big opening in the middle for Luck to step into and deliver the pass. Wayne was actually bracketed on this play — outside by Hayward and inside by Burnett. Burnett allowed Wayne to get inside of him and Luck delivered him the ball for a 12-yard gain.
On the huge 3rd-and-12, the Packers went the other route and blitzed six. Matthews and Perry both got a good rush around the end. Luck stepped forward at the perfect moment and Matthews’ momentum took him past Luck when it looked like he might get a sack. Luck delivered it on time to Wayne before the inside rush closed on him.
Wayne was singled tightly by Woodson with McMillan paying special attention in the middle of the field. You can’t tell me this is a planned route. Wayne simply ran past the 1st down marker, faked the in and turned around. Luck delivered it perfectly as Wayne turned. Wayne went up to catch it in traffic.
The next play might have been a defensive breakdown. The Packers only rushed four and Luck delivered it to Wayne again over the middle against Burnett for another 14 yards. Woodson was covering no one on the outside, in zone, when he possibly should have been covering Wayne rather than leaving him one-on-one with Burnett.
Finally, on 3rd-and-7 from the 11, with the defense again stiffening near the end zone, Luck ran up the middle against a four-man rush. Worthy gave Luck the opportunity by jumping in the air to bat a ball that wasn’t being thrown. Still, D.J. Smith and Casey Hayward are both in position to tackle Luck short of the 1st down. Wrong. Luck wanted it more than them and neither made a great effort to get Luck down. He picks up the 1st.
The TD was on the next play, which is simply a great play by Wayne with Williams all over him.
The Colts would go for two and do what every team going for two against the Packers should do — they ran it. Conversion — 30-27.
Now, if the Packers had converted on the two points that Rodgers threw away, the Colts most likely would have taken the extra point and the tie at 29, rather than risk the game on a two-point conversion. You can actually say that the Packers have two losses because of failed two-point conversions.
Yes, the Packers got the ball back with 35 seconds, but since Packers fans know Mason Crosby, most knew the game was already over.
The Packers actually did well to get the ball to the Colts’ 34. Unfortunately, they decided to “save” their timeout, for Monday I guess, and spike the ball instead of calling timeout to stop the clock at 18 seconds. Then, to compound the error, Rodgers didn’t get the offense to the line of scrimmage fast enough and ran out of time on the play clock when it looked like the Colts were actually going to blitz (yeah, right). This forced Rodgers to use the timeout anyway,and there you go. Crosby now tries a 52-yard kick.
Crosby proceeded to step up and make the kind of kick that the Colts faithful haven’t seen since Mike Vanderjagt gagged one to end the 2005 playoff game against the Steelers.
This is long enough, so I’m not going to provide a lot of overall game analysis. Let me just say that the film shows the Colts made the biggest adjustment in the game by going away from the press coverage to a lot more zone coverage in the second half. This clearly confused Rodgers, at times.
Rodgers is not the same QB as this time last year and the fact that his top receiver is out is probably the biggest reason why. Defensive coordinators also appear to know better how to attack him. He and McCarthy need to adjust and roll with the changes.
The defense is young and needs to keep improving. Their play wasn’t as bad as the stats turned out to be. It didn’t help that the offense couldn’t hold the ball and give the Colts credit — they made a lot of great plays in the second half.
It really doesn’t matter how you’re playing at this time of year. All that matters is the W. The Packers failure to get one here could cost them at the end of the year, when it ALL matters.