GREEN BAY, Wis. – When Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called Sunday’s four-turnover performance at Indianapolis an “anomaly,” he’s right.
In the Rodgers era, the Packers had four-plus turnovers in only eight games. Only five of those games were with Rodgers behind center. And of those, one came in 2017 at Carolina, when Rodgers was fresh off a broken collarbone, and the other came in 2008, when Rodgers suffered an injured shoulder at Tampa Bay.
It happened again on Sunday against the Colts. The fourth and final turnover of the game, a fumble by Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the second play of overtime, handed Indianapolis a 34-31 victory.
“I think it is an anomaly based on the nine games we’ve played,” Rodgers said. “We haven’t had more than two I don’t think in any other game. A lot of zeros.”
In fact, Green Bay entered the week with five giveaways – second only to the Titans’ four. Now they have nine. Seven have come in the three losses. The other two came last week in a victory over the woeful Jaguars.
While the loss knocked Green Bay from first place to third in the NFC, that they lost by only three points against a quality team helped soften the blow.
“Today actually gave me a lot of confidence in our guys,” Rodgers said.
The turnovers started early. On the third play of the game, with Green Bay already in scoring position, Rodgers botched the snap from center Corey Linsley. The Packers escaped when Raven Greene forced fumble on the ensuing possession.
On the second-to-last play of the first quarter, Rodgers was intercepted by second-year corner Rock Ya-Sin. Rodgers was looking to hit Valdes-Scantling in a hole in the zone but Ya-Sin retreated quickly to get under the throw. The Packers allowed just 3 yards and the Colts missed a 50-yard field goal.
Despite trailing 2-1 in turnovers, the Packers led 28-14 at halftime.
The Colts dominated the third quarter and tied the game 28-all early in the fourth quarter. Darrius Shepherd fumbled on the kickoff return, with the Colts taking over at Green Bay’s 28. An offensive holding call and a pass breakup by Jaire Alexander helped the Packers escape with only a field goal to trail 31-28.
Green Bay forced the game to overtime, thanks in large part to Rodgers’ 47-yard bomb to Valdes-Scantling on third-and-10 from the 6.
However, on second-and-2 from the 30, Valdes-Scantling fumbled on a receiver screen. The Colts recovered at the 29 and failed to get a first down but won the game on a 39-yard field goal.
“When you’re playing a good football team – or any team for that matter – and you lose the turnover 4-2, it’s tough to come out on top,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “You’ve got to give them credit. We knew what we were facing. We knew we were facing a really good football team that does as good a job as anybody that we’ve seen in terms of punching the ball out. Again, when you lose the turnover battle like that, it’s usually going to end up in a defeat.”
The fumble by Valdes-Scantling continued his maddening third season. He was superb in last week’s victory over Jacksonville. Without him, the Packers probably wouldn’t have avoided an embarrassing upset to the one-loss Jaguars. And without his deep catch late in regulation, there might not have been an overtime to fumble.
“I have a lot of love for Marquez,” Rodgers said. “I see the guy every single day, see how much he cares about it. It happens, unfortunately. A lot of it is fundamentals carrying the ball, but I’ve had my fair share of fumbles. It was just bad timing, obviously. Just trying to get a first down there and re-set the downs. Looked like a good play by the nickel, kind of split Allen (Lazard) and Bobby (Robert Tonyan) there, but I think the ball was just a little loose. But that stuff happens. He made a big play at the end of regulation to get us going on third-and-10. Disappointed for him, disappointed for us.”
Teams this season with four-plus giveaways are 1-14.