Five things we learned from Green Bay's surprisingly complete 34-14 conquest of Indianapolis on Sunday in Lambeau Field ...
Uh, maybe not.
Nothing about Indy's offensive performance against Green Bay bespoke a return to the form that we have grown accustomed to from
But that assessment proved to be premature in Green Bay, as the Colts played a sloppy, ineffective offensive game that featured two Manning interceptions returned for touchdowns (only the second time that's happened in his 11-year NFL career), a blocked 45-yard
Ignoring the fourth quarter, when the Colts racked up some yardage while already down 27-7, Indy had just 11 first downs, 169 net yards and 11 penalties for 105 yards in the first three quarters. Up to that point, the Colts had had just six meaningful possessions, scoring only on their first one. Even when Indy did get on the board, it took a long time to do so, showing virtually none of the quick-strike, big-play ability that we're used to seeing from the Colts. Receivers Harrison and
What's wrong with the Colts? Maybe Manning's twice-operated on knee still isn't 100 percent and he still can't plant and throw with his same level of accuracy. Maybe Indy's offensive line issues (injuries and ineffectiveness) are the root of all its problems. Maybe running back
All I really know is that this kind of lackluster showing is getting very familiar. In reality, the Colts probably deserve to be 1-5 this season, rather than 3-3 after those miracle fourth-quarter comebacks at Minnesota and Houston.
"This is kind of the way we have been all year,'' said Dungy, with blunt honesty. "We have been up and down and not consistent. We showed more of that today. Green Bay played smarter and sharper than we did, and consequently won the game by a big score.''
Nothing to argue with there.
And what may be most impressive about Rodgers is his ability to play so mistake-free and put together long drives. The Packers' first five drives went 13, 8, 11, 10 and 12 plays, and Green Bay had a season-best 19 first downs in the first half. Three of those first five possessions were for 60-yards-plus, which Green Bay turned into two touchdowns and a field goal. That gives Rodgers 20 drives of 60-plus yards on the season, and Green Bay has scored on all but one (13 touchdowns and six field goals). Through three quarters on Sunday, the Packers held a more than 10 minute lead in time of possession (27:57 to 17:03).
Rodgers is very efficient. He had no turnovers against the Colts, took no sacks and found eight Packers receivers in the course of completing 21 of 28, for 186 yards, with one touchdown and a sterling 104.2 passer rating. This guy knows how to take care of the football, and you certainly couldn't always say that about No. 4. When you factor in that Rodgers has been playing with a sore shoulder since Week 4, and the pressure on him at the start of the season, it's hard to not be impressed.
"This was just a big confidence boost for our team,'' Rodgers said. "We were 3-3 coming into this one and playing a team coming off a big win against Baltimore. We really felt we needed this one going into our bye week. This one was sweet for us.''
So, in my book that makes Indy's game at Tennessee a must-win, at least in terms of the Colts' division-title hopes. It sounds a bit early for that, but I don't think it's an overstatement. Especially given the Colts' challenging schedule in the next five weeks: at Tennessee, New England, at Pittsburgh, Houston and at San Diego. That's four of the five teams, besides themselves, who made the 2007 playoffs in the AFC, leaving out only Jacksonville.
Boil it all down, and even though it'll only be Week 8, the Colts have no time to lose. Mainly because, unlike the Titans, they've been losing a fair amount of the time.
For starters, the Packers defensive backs played very physically against the Colts receivers, getting their hands on them at the line of scrimmage and disrupting their routes. That's straight out of the "How to Beat the Colts" handbook, of course, but it rarely works as well as it did for Green Bay in this game. Not only did the Packers secondary hold Manning without a touchdown pass, but also it picked him off twice, taking both interceptions back for touchdowns.
First, there was free safety
That tied the Green Bay franchise record for longest interception return (
Remarkably, it's the second time this season that Green Bay's defense had returned two interceptions for scores in the same game. Collins and cornerback
"All I saw was green in front of me,'' Rouse said. "Once I saw that real estate, I'm going to go and get it. Nobody was going to catch me.''
And the performance of Green Bay's secondary is even more impressive when you consider that starting corner
Earlier this season Ugoh was injured and replaced by Johnson, but once he got healthy, he lost the job based on his performance. With victories at Houston and home against Baltimore coming off their bye the past two weeks, the Colts may not have wanted to change their wining combination on the offensive line. But now it bears watching once again to see if Ugoh re-enters the starting lineup in the near future.