Poor kick coverage puts Packers in hole
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers won the coin toss Sunday and elected to defer. They trailed 13 seconds later.
Mason Crosby booted the opening kickoff to the right side of the field. He kicked it toward Jordan Todman, a backup running back for the Indianapolis Colts.
Todman caught the ball at the 1-yard line and immediately embarked on a diagonal course from one side of the field to the other. The blocking was perfect, the tackling was absent and Todman, a former sixth-round pick by the San Diego Chargers, exploded down the sideline for a 99-yard touchdown.
"Man, I don’t know," said Kentrell Brice, a safety and core special teamer for the Packers. "Can’t really say much, they scored. They ran to the weak side. We were pushing everybody to the front side, they countered back to our side. That’s all."
McGINN: Lament at Lambeau deepens
DOUGHERTY: Listless Packers seek spark
RELATED: Colts blanket Rodgers, offense
D'AMATO: Packers' defense fails again
INSIDER: Thumbs down to pass rushers
Said Todman: "I saw it kind of early. I set up the block and saw a couple of guys go down. ... At that time, I saw we had the inside block perfect. Once I was one-on-one with the kicker, I was confident in my speed to do that."
As Todman celebrated behind the end zone, the Packers lingered in a state of shock. They entered the game as seven-point favorites. Within seconds, their supposed cushion was lost.
"It is a very rare play," Todman said. "This is my sixth year in the league and it is my first return to the house. It is huge. It is very rare, but when it does happen you see the results. When things click the right way, when all blocks are there and it is set up in the right way, you can house it."
Under special teams coordinator Ron Zook, the Packers entered Sunday allowing the fourth-most yards per return at 25.8. Their touchback percentage of 54.1 percent ranked 24th.
But the bend-not-break kickoff coverage was severed beginning with Todman's 99-yard romp. Then he added a 61-yard return on the first play of the second quarter.
BOX SCORE: Colts 31, Packers 26
RELATED: Clinton-Dix has range of emotions
RELATED: Cobb used in emergency
RELATED: Pass rush fails to rattle Luck
"I have no clue, man," safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said when asked what went wrong. "We’ve got to look at the film on Monday, evaluate it and move on, learn from it.
Crosby kicked deep to Todman after quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 26-yard score. Todman, who had returned only five kicks this season prior to Sunday, fielded the ball 6 yards deep in the end zone.
And just like his first return, Todman bolted toward the opposite sideline. He sprinted down the right sideline, right in front of the Packers' bench, and finally was tackled across midfield. He landed right at the feet of Zook, who stood there frozen, perplexed and with hands on hips.
Quarterback Andrew Luck trotted onto the field at the Packers' 45-yard line. Eight plays later, the Colts tacked on a field goal.
Todman's two returns had yielded 10 easy points.
"Like coach said, man, the first half they just outplayed us," said linebacker Joe Thomas, another core special teams player. "I just think that’s pretty much what happened."