The Green Bay Packers blew a 14-point halftime lead and fell to the Indianapolis Colts in overtime on Sunday, 34-31. The loss drops the Packers to 7-3-0 on the season heading into next Sunday night’s home game against the Bears.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns but the Packers offense stalled for most of the second half and the team committed four costly turnovers that helped cost them the game.
Here is a look at 10 things we learned from the Packers 34-31 loss to the Colts:
1. Turnovers Really Hurt the Packers
Aaron Rodgers threw one interception and the Packers lost three fumbles. The Colts were able to take advantage of the turnovers in the second half and in overtime and turn them into points.
With the game tied at 28-28, Darrius Shepherd fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Colts took over at the Green Bay 28. That led directly to the go-ahead field goal which put Indianapolis ahead with 9:01 left in regulation time.
Then, in overtime, Marquez Valdes-Scantling fumbled on the Packers second play from scrimmage and that led directly to the game-winning field goal.
Overall, the sloppy play and failure to hold on to the ball were very costly to the Packers in this game.
2. MVS Giveth and MVS Taketh Away
Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a game that illustrated his value to the team and why he can be so frustrating at the same time.
MVS made some strong blocks on several plays that helped spring the Packers to key gains. He also drew a long pass interference penalty late in the first half that resulted in a 51-yard gain and helped set up Rodgers’ touchdown toss to Jamaal Williams one play later. There is no way that play works without Valdes-Scantling’s speed.
He also came up with a huge catch for the Packers late in the fourth quarter on third-and-10 from the Green Bay six yard line that gained 47 yards and started the game-tying drive.
But then MVS fumbled the ball away in overtime and that led directly to the Colts game-winning kick. He also ran a few less-than-precise patterns.
Valdes-Scantling is immensely talented and a dangerous weapon on offense, but his inconsistency often hurts the team as much as his explosiveness helps it. Today’s game was a great example of both sides of MVS’ game.
3. The Run Defense Was Still Poor
The Colts entered the game as one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL and yet they were able to move the ball on the ground consistently against Green Bay. Jonathan Taylor, who had been struggling mightily in recent weeks, gained 90 yards on 22 carries while backup Jordan Wilkins added 21 yards on just four attempts.
As a team, Indianapolis 140 yards on the ground in this game, more than 45 yards per game more than their season average.
More importantly, when the Packers knew the Colts were going to run the football, they still couldn’t slow them down and that remains a sore spot for this team.
4. The Offensive Line Came Through After Injuries Struck Again
The Green Bay offensive line played well for most of this game despite losing center Corey Linsley early on to a back injury. As a result, Elgton Jenkins moved to center and Jon Runyan, Jr. moved in to play left guard.
Jenkins has now played center, tackle and guard for the Packers this season and he got the job done in Linsley’s absence. There were no bad snaps and he did a good job of pass blocking and run blocking throughout the game.
Runyan stepped in and did his usual workmanlike job at guard next to David Bakhtiari on the left side.
Overall, the Packers allowed only one sack in four-plus quarters of action and the holes were usually there for the running backs when they carried the football.
5. The Packers Had an Awful Third Quarter
The Packers headed into the locker room at halftime up 28-14 but that lead slipped away in a disastrous third quarter that saw the team run only six plays on offense and punting twice while giving up two long scoring drives that put the Colts right back in the football game.
It just seemed that the Indianapolis defense made adjustments at the half and the Packers didn’t make any counter moves until the final drive of regulation time when they started to move the ball again.
Defensively, the Packers allowed the Colts a 14-play drive for a field goal and a 10-play drive for a touchdown. The time of possession was 11:22 for the Colts in the third quarter to just 3:38 for Green Bay. The momentum of the game swung entirely in the home team’s favor and the Packers were unable to get out of that funk until their very last drive in the fourth quarter.
Each time the Packers got the ball, it was three-and-out and that tired out the defense for the fourth quarter when they allowed field goals on the first two Colts drives.
The Packers were outcoached and outexecuted on both sides of the ball in the third quarter and it allowed a game they seemed to have firmly in their control to slip away.
6. Davante Adams Remains Spectacular
What else can you say about Davante Adams? The Packers star receiver scored a touchdown in his fifth straight game which is the longest active streak in the NFL right now.
Tae finished the game with seven catches in eight targets for 106 yards and a touchdown. He made some key catches in the final drive of regulation that helped set up the game-tying field goal and even gave the Packers a chance to win the game late.
Adams has excellent body control and awareness and continues to prove game in and game out that he is one of the best receivers in the game today.
7. There Were Some Bright Spots on Defense
Yes, the defense was inconsistent and frustrating to watch, especially in the second half, but there were some bright spots on that side of the ball.
Kenny Clark seems to be rounding into form and had a solid game. He had six total tackles including his first sack of the season and was credited with two quarterback hits. The Packers will need Clark to play well down the stretch if the defense is going to improve in time for the playoffs.
Christian Kirksey also had his best game since joining the Packers. The free agent signee led the team with 11 total tackles, broke up a pass and made a key interception that set up the Packers third touchdown of the game and put them ahead 21-7.
Rashan Gary recorded some pressures in this game, had a quarterback hit and broke up a pass. Gary is improving and is rounding into form as a pass rusher as the season progresses.
Raven Greene forced a fumble that Darnell Savage recovered in the first quarter that set up the first Packers touchdown of the day, a 25-yard pass from Rodgers to Robert Tonyan.
There were certainly problems on defense, but there were a few bright spots, too.
8. The Packers Return Game Suffered without Tyler Ervin
The Packers clearly missed Tyler Ervin in the return game. Darrius Shepherd averaged only 19.7-yards per return in seven chances and of course had a key fumble.
On many occasions, Shepherd opted to run the ball either out of the end zone or to field the ball inside the five yard line and return it rather than allow a touchback. Most of the time, that turned out to be a mistake.
Shepherd is not a threat to break a long return and seems hesitant at times and makes too many poor decisions. If Ervin is unavailable next Sunday, Matt LaFleur should look for other alternatives in the return game, even if it means bringing in a free agent or elevating someone off the practice squad.
9. Penalties Let the Packers Back in the Game
The Packers failed to convert a 4th-and-1 attempt at the Colts 34 with just about three minutes left in regulation time. The Colts converted a fourth-down chance at the Green Bay 36 just after the two-minute warning and seemed to have the game clinched, but Indianapolis committed five holding penalties during that drive, repeatedly stopping the clock and taking them out of field goal range.
This parade of penalties gave the Packers a final chance to get the ball back and they did at their own six yard line with 1:25 left on the clock and one timeout remaining. Rodgers took the Pack 86 yards in 10 plays but the drive stalled at the Colts 8 and Mason Crosby kicked the tying field goal with three seconds left in regulation.
The Colts gave the Packers a final chance to get back in the game and it nearly cost them a game they should have clinched already.
10. The Packers Abandoned the Run Too Quickly
The Packers ran the ball 14 times in the first half for 56 yards and they had a 28-14 lead. In the second half, they ran only four times for 10 yards and the lead all but disappeared.
This is not to say the Packers should have turned their offense to ground and pound, but they all but abandoned the running game in the second half and the offense stalled. The play-calling was much less imaginative and the offense much less effective in the second half.
Aaron Jones is a big weapon for this offense and Jamaal Williams can be effective as well. Abandoning the running game like the Packers did hurt the offense and made the team one-dimensional.
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