Even the most ardent Packers fan will have to concede the feel good nature of the Indianapolis Colts' 30-27 come from behind victory over Green Bay Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Their head coach watched the game from his hospital bed just a couple of blocks away. Chuck Pagano has begun chemotherapy treatment for lukemia diagnosed one week ago and the win one for the Gipper emotion was palpable in the Indy locker room. We wish Pagano the best as well. That being said, the now 2-3 Packers are almost an unrecognizable bunch that kicked away a 21-3 halftime lead at Lucas Oil Stadium. Green Bay looked like Lippazaner Stallions in the first half, scoring on three out of four drives. John Kuhn smashing over from the 2, James Jones with a 6 yard grab and Randall Cobb streaking across the field for 31 yards two minutes after Indy got on the board with a field goal. After the intermision, the Packers played like tired old nags. Aaron Rodgers got picked off on the first series and the emotional fuse was lit. The Jarraud Powers interception led to a 39 yard drive capped by Dwayne Allen's 8 yard touchdown catch. The emotional powder keg went off. Rodgers endured the first of five second half sacks to kill the next series. Adam Vinatieri drilled a 50 yard field goal, 21-13. Mason Crosby missed from 52 and the Colts took advantage of another phantom pass interference penalty against Sam Shields. Running stride for stride with Donnie Avery, Shields was pushed out of the way on the incompletion but the flag was dropped and the penalty covered 25 yards. Four plays later, Luck ran a quarterback draw from the three and it was now 21-19. A two point try for the tie failed. Another sack, another punt but Casey Hayward finally got the better of Luck and Reggie Wayne with a nice interception to get the ball back. Sack number three and another punt. A 75 yard drive led to a second Vinatieri field goal from 28 and the Colts took a 22-21 lead with 8:04 to play. From midfield, Rodgers was sacked on consecutive plays. The defense finally forced a three and out after a Masthay punt pinned the Colts deep and given great field position, the Packers scored in two plays. Alex Green ripped off a 41 yard run and from the 8, Rodgers hit Jones on a post for the score and 27-22 lead with 4:30 to play. The Packers two point conversion attempt also failed. Starting at their own 20, Luck and Wayne completed the comeback, connecting on 15, 15 and 18 yard plays. On third and 12 from the 47, Clay Matthews somehow let Luck slip away to find Wayne for a first down. On third and 7 from the 11 with under a minute left, Luck scrambled for a first down at the four. On the next snap, he hit Wayne at the one who was hit, but he stretched the ball over the plane for the touchdown and a two point run by Donald Brown made it 30-27 but there were still :35 left and the Packers had two timeouts. To completions to Randall Cobb and another to Donald Driver led to a Rodgers spike at the Colts 33 with :08 left. Ready to gain just a few more yards and burn their last timeout, Rodgers said confusion over the call and alignment along with a draining play clock, forced Green Bay to use their third to avoid a delay costing them five. Crosby came out for a 51 yard try to force overtime, but it hooked badly left. Ball game. Wayne was the most heroic figure. He played at the University of Miami when Pagano was an assistant just getting his coaching career started 16 years ago. Wayne put on a show with 13 catches for 212 yards, the second most gained by an opposing receiver in Green Bay history. While he may be considered the enemie's star, the Packers were their own worst enemy. The first six posessions of the second half resulted in an interception, a punt, a missed field goal and three more punts. Green Bay was flagged for 9 penalties covering 89 yards. The held the ball for only 24:44 and allowed Indy to run a staggering 89 offensive plays. It won't get any easier for the resurgent Houston Texans are next, deep in the heart of Texas, in prime time for all the world to see.
Complicating matters for the offense were two key injuries. Cedric Benson was lost with a foot injury early in the second quarter, Jermichael Finley was done after hurting his shoulder early in the third. Before Alex Green's 41 yard run late, he had 8 carries for only 14 yards. Without Finley and an inactive Greg Jennings, Packer receivers couldn't consistently get open which led to 5 more sacks, making it 21 on the season. B.J. Raji also left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Mike Neal was activated after only 1 week of practice and registered a sack. Green Bay released Phillip Merling to make room. The inactives were Jennings, Jarrett Boykin, Sean Richardson, Davon House, James Starks, Terrell Manning and Mike Daniels. The Packers are now 0-4 against the Colts in Indianapolis. Two of the team's three losses have come against rookie quarterbacks. There were banners along with stadium wall underneath both goal posts that read "CHUCKSTRONG". He is, the Colts were, and the Packers are left to figure out things quickly, two games behind Minnesota and Chicago one third of the way into a very odd season.
On the link below, quotes from both locker rooms covering the emotional thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.