GREEN BAY - Despite a horrendous performance through three quarters, the Green Bay Packers had a chance when it mattered most Sunday.
The Indianapolis Colts, protectors of a 31-26 lead, needed one more first down to run out the clock and preserve a win. They faced third-and-2 near the middle of the field. The logical choice was to run the football.
But quarterback Andrew Luck dropped back to pass, and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton broke free over the middle of the field. Luck lofted a perfect throw that resulted in 27 yards, a first down and, most importantly, a win.
The Colts defeated the Packers, 31-26.
BOX SCORE: Colts 31, Packers 26
GAME BLOG: Review Silverstein’s coverage
MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES: Submit your headline
Player of the Game: Gore. At the age of 33, Gore continues to produce at a position that washes players out of the league several years prior. The former San Francisco 49er ran for 60 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns to balance the offense for Luck. It wasn’t the first time Gore has hurt the Packers. He ran for 66 yards and a touchdown in 2013, when the 49ers knocked Green Bay out of the playoffs. And the year prior he ran for 119 yards and one touchdown in another playoff win over the Packers.
Turning point: Three weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys marched 90-plus yards in the closing seconds of the first half to widen their lead over the Packers. As you know by now, the Cowboys went on to win. On Sunday, the Colts took over at their own 4-yard line with 5 minutes, 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter. What followed was a methodical procession down the field, one that converted three first downs and ate up more than five minutes of game time. It ended with a beautiful back-shoulder pass from Luck to Donte Moncrief for an 8-yard touchdown; cornerback LaDarius Gunter was in coverage. A 14-point lead was too much for the Packers to overcome.
Big number: 1 — Number of completions for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. The half itself was poor for the Packers’ offense, and Rodgers was no exception. He finished 7-of-17 for 77 yards and one touchdown. His lone completion of the second quarter was a 9-yard toss to tight end Justin Perillo.
What went right: The Packers trailed 31-19 with 5 minutes, 28 seconds remaining. They needed two touchdowns to win the game. Launching into their hurry-up, no-huddle offense, the Packers found a rhythm for the first time. Rodgers completed all six of his passes on the drive and marshaled an effective scoring drive, one that ended with a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. With their backs against the wall, the Packers finally responded. They finally looked fluid. But it was much, much too late. Prior to the final drive, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a terrific game with two interceptions and a sack.
What went wrong: The mistakes began early for the Packers, as in the very first play of the game. Kicker Mason Crosby sent one deep to return man Jordan Todman, and 99 yards later the Colts enjoyed their first lead of the game. Todman burst diagonally across the field from left to right and ran unimpeded for the touchdown. He later added a 61-yard kickoff return that set up a field goal by kicker Adam Viniatieri. To make matters worse, Crosby also missed a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter. The Colts capitalized on a short field and put together a 62-yard scoring drive that ended with a short touchdown run by Gore.
Check back later for complete coverage of the game by our team from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Green Bay Press-Gazette.