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[November 07, 2016]
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the game
slipping away, Andrew Luck delivered a pair of daggers.
With the Green Bay Packers scoring back-to-back touchdowns to pull
within 31-26, Luck made key third-down passes to tight end Jack
Doyle and receiver T.Y. Hilton in the final three minutes to
preserve the Indianapolis Colts' victory.
"Really proud of our guys," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "This
team, they don't quit, they don't lay down, they don't listen to the
noise. They just continue to work and work and work and work. It was
a great ball game, it was a hard-fought ball game. We found a way to
make enough plays. Huge play at the end of the game. (Luck) made two
unbelievable plays there."
The Colts (4-5) have alternated wins and losses since starting the
season 0-2. They rebounded from a blowout home loss to the Chiefs
last week by jumping on the Packers from the start with Jordan
Todman's 99-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff.
"Difficult, disappointing home loss," Packers coach Mike McCarthy
said. "Indianapolis jumped on us from the first play and we frankly
never got it back. It's the key stops is what we needed on defense
and we didn't get that. Difficult loss. That's two home losses (and)
that doesn't sit well with anybody."
The Packers (4-4) appeared to get their offense in gear the previous
two weeks, but they took several steps in the wrong direction
Sunday. Against an Indianapolis defense that entered the game ranked
29th in total defense, 31st in passing defense and 28th in scoring
defense, the Green Bay offense sputtered until a late rally.
Aaron Rodgers finished 26 of 43 for 297 yards with three touchdowns
and one interception, but he had only 169 yards through three
Green Bay's offensive problems could be summed up on a third-and-6
early in the fourth quarter, when Rodgers threw incomplete on a deep
pass to Jordy Nelson against double coverage.
"Right now, we've got to score more than 26 points to win a game
like that," Rodgers said. "We felt comfortable that they weren't
going to be able to stop us a whole lot. We just kind of stopped
ourselves. We started off with uncharacteristically low energy for
whatever reason, and then didn't really respond well early in the
game for whatever reason. They obviously had the first play of the
game a touchdown and then a semi-backbreaker before the half to put
them up two scores. But we have to respond better, like we did to
close out the game."
The Colts all but put the game away on the ensuing possession. Luck
hit Donte Moncrief for 39 yards on the first play, and Frank Gore
barreled through the defense for his second touchdown of the day,
this one a 4-yarder that made it 31-13 with 9:35 remaining.
The Packers made things interesting late. Rodgers' 40-yard
completion to Davante Adams set up Rodgers' 2-yard touchdown toss to
Adams. Cornerback Patrick Robinson broke up the two-point play,
leaving the score 31-19.
After Green Bay forced a three-and-out, Rodgers went 7 of 7 on an
80-yard scoring drive, hitting receiver Randall Cobb for a 3-yard
touchdown to make it 31-26 with 3:29 left.
The Colts, however, survived. On third-and-9, Luck shook off
blitzing safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and threw a strike to Doyle for a
gain of 20. Moments later, on third-and-2, Luck lofted a pass to
Hilton for 27 yards to seal the deal.
"Great job up front, first of all," said Luck, who threw for 281
yards to offset two first-half interceptions. "You know they're
bringing everybody and they blocked it up and we had enough time to
get it do T.Y. and on the other play (to Doyle). Guys fought their
butts off all day long. They really did a heck of a job. When we had
to make a play, we did."
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Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery (88) tries to get past
Indianapolis Colts safety T.J. Green (32) in the second quarter at
Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The Colts took command late in the first half. Starting at their 4,
they drove 96 yards in 15 plays for a touchdown and a commanding
24-10 lead. The key was a third-and-9 from the 5.
With the Packers getting the ball to start the second half, Green
Bay appeared poised to swing the momentum if it could get a
third-down stop. Instead, Luck hit receiver Phillip Dorsett for 13
to launch an impressive scoring drive. Luck punctuated the march
with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Moncrief with 11 seconds left in
the half. The fans serenaded the Packers with boos as the team went
in for halftime.
It didn't get any better for the Packers to start the second half.
Rodgers had the Packers driving toward the end zone but was
intercepted by Darius Butler. Green Bay's next possession entered
the red zone, but the Colts slammed the door. Mason Crosby's 27-yard
field goal made it 24-13 with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
The Colts led 14-10 after an eventful first quarter, kick-started by
Todman's return. The Packers answered with a field goal.
Indianapolis added a touchdown, with Luck making downfield
connections to Dorsett, Hilton and tight end Dwayne Allen. A
misdirection pitch to Gore resulted in an easy 7-yard touchdown for
a 14-3 lead.
Clinton-Dix intercepted Luck on the Colts' next possession. On the
final play of the quarter, Rodgers hit Nelson for a 26-yard
touchdown. Rodgers coaxed the Colts offside and threw a bullet to
the corner of the end zone, with Nelson using his body to prevent
Butler from making a play on the ball.
On the first play of the second quarter, Todman returned the kickoff
61 yards. Adam Vinatieri's 28-yard field goal bumped the Colts' edge
NOTES: KR Jordan Todman's touchdown return was the first for the
Colts since Week 17 of the 2012 season, when Deji Karim took one
back 101 yards vs. Houston. Todman entered the game with 74 career
returns and a long of 59 yards. ... The Packers' inactives list
included OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring) for a second consecutive
week. WR Randall Cobb, who missed last week's game with a hamstring
injury, was active but didn't play until the second half. ... Four
starters were on the Colts' inactives list, including G Jack Mewhort
and defensive tackle Kendall Langford. ... S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who
had no interceptions this year before Sunday, also had two
interceptions in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. ... Packers QB
Aaron Rodgers had a streak of 133 consecutive passes without an
interception until he was picked off by Colts CB Darius Butler.
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