Legendary senior writer & Packers lead blogger jclombardi’s insider review & grades.
Photo credit: Evan Siegle GBPG.
SUMMARY: In a predictable Packers game playing down to the competition with a Dr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll tale of two halves, the Packers lost a half-time lead losing 30-27. In the first half, the Packers dominated getting a 21-3 lead. Yet, in a second half, the offense stalled, the defense got torched, and the special teams missed two field goals to lose the game. In the final seconds, kicker Mason Crosby choked missing a 51 yard attempt to force overtime.
GAME BALLS: WR Jones.
INJURY REPORT: RB Benson (Lisfranc foot injury--out 8 weeks). NT Raji (sprained foot). TE Finley (shoulder).
PASSING OFFENSE: C vs C- vs C+. In the first half, with fine protection and no sacks, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led 3 scoring drives connecting on two touchdown passes to WR Jones and WR Cobb. In the second half, with RB Benson hurt, the Packers fell apart with their first six drives being an interception, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, and punt. Briefly, the Packers late 4th quarter touchdown regained the lead for them.
In the second half, Rodgers got sacked five times. For the game, he completed 21 of 33 for 243 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 big interception, and 103.5 passer rating. Six receivers combined for only 16 catches and 204 yards.WR Nelson had only 2 catches for 29 yards and 1 drop. In a big game, WR Cobb had 4 catches, 82 yards, and 1 big touchdown. WR Jones also had a big game with 4 catches, 46 yards, and 2 touchdowns. TE Finley had a miserable day blocking and catching. He had 3 catches for only 11 yards and one drop before leaving with a shoulder injury. WR Driver had 1 catch for 14 yards and one drop. After the game, Rodgers acknowledged that the offense must step up to get the Packers back-on-track for the season.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B- vs C vs B. For the game, the Packers rushed for 141 yards averaging 6.1 ypc. By the 2nd quarter, RB Cedric Benson had 7 carries for 20 yards before leaving with a sprained foot. Replacement RB Alex Green had 9 carries for 55 yards including a 41 yards run. QB Rodgers scrambled 5 times fo 57 yards. FB Kuhn had 2 carries 9 yards, one touchdown, and a 6 yards catch.
PASSING DEFENSE: D vs C vs C-. Colts rookie quarterback Luck completed 31 of 55 passes for 365 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. It was a two man show between Luck and WR Wayne who had 13 catches for 212 yards and 1 touchdown. The entire second half looked like Greek black theater watching the latest NFL rookie sensation lead an awful rebuilding team to their "Super Bowl" victory for the year.
With an effective blitz schemes in the first half, the Packers got four sacks. In the second half, DC Capers became too complacent staying in zone coverage and failed at double-teaming Colts WR Wayne. CB Williams had an awful game. He dropped two interceptions and had a third one nullified by replay. CB Shields had an okay game, excluding two questionable penalties. Rookie CB Hayward look good with an impressive interception. Safety McMillian has growing pains being a rookie. When the Packers moved CB Woodson to safety, the move did not help either side. Colts WR Hilton ripped a pass away from him getting 26 yards, WR Wayne beat him on a deep vertical for 30 yards. Finally, Woodson had two coverage penalties. Fans can read the writing on the wall.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D vs C- vs C. While they held the Colts to 119 yards rushing, the Packers fell victim to old issues including misdirection plays and missed tackles. Thus, Colts RB Brown had an impressive 17 carries for 84 yards (4.9 average). When the Packers lost NT B.J. Raji early in the second quarter to an injury, they struggled to stop the run in his absence. DL Neal had an impressive game, but he is a better pass rusher than a run stopper. The linebackers, excluding ILB Smith who had a mixed game, had strong games.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C- vs C- vs D+. Generally, the coverage and return teams did well. Kicker Mason Crosby had 5 kickoffs with all being touchbacks averaging 77.2 yards and 4.06 seconds (hang time). Punter Masthay was super with his 7 punts averaging 45.1 (gross), 43.3 (net) and 4.84 (hang time). 4 of 7 punts landed inside the 20. Also, he punted a 58 yarder, when the Packers were at their own 12 yards line. KR/PR Cobb averaged a good 31.7 yards for good field position, although better blocking would have yielded bigger gains. Finally, the old "Choke" Crosby showed up with the game on-the-line, when he missed two big field goals from 50 and 51 yards.
COACHING: F vs D vs ?. Head Coach McCarthy and defensive coordinator Capers share the blame for this embarrassing horrible loss to an awful rebuilding AFC team. As the SE rightly commented:
Much of the criticism of how the Packers' biggest second-half collapse that resulted in a loss had some validity. Losing the game to an inferior opponent was inexcusable. This game, just like the controversial last-second loss at Seattle in Week 3, could have lasting repercussions for an NFC-title contender whose season may be on the brink of falling apart with a 2-3 record. McCarthy all but abandoned what was an effective balance between the pass and the run early in the game after Benson [was lost]. [DC] Capers did a number on Luck with the liberal blitzing in the first half but failed to make the adjustment at halftime to get somebody glued to Wayne down field at all times when the Colts stiffened with their pass protection.
Further, the failure of both coaches to make the successful quick adjustments is striking for a professional football team with this elite talent. Again, Coach Mike McCarthy's play-calling continued to be an issue, especially in the second half of this game. Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers failed to get a scheme to stop Colts WR Wayne (one WR)! Finally, in 2011, the Packers finished in the top tier among in the NFL in least penalties and penalty yards. In 2012, the Packers are the leaders in penalty yards and 4th in the number of penalties (5 games).
OVERALL: D vs ? vs C-. The Packers put on an embarrassing horrible performance losing to an awful rebuilding team in Indiana. Where is the dominant offense and the Packers' defense to force turnovers like last year? How could this super Packers team fall so far, so fast. It is a sad state-of-affairs that this 2012 Packers team could be 2-4 after visiting the Texans.
While GM Thompson made good moves in the off-season to add an NFL solid runner and great rookie defensive players who are making solid performances, e.g. OLB Perry, CB Hayward, and Safety McMillian, to help the defense, the injuries are taking a toll on the team too. For this team to turn around this season, as QB Rodgers said, the offense must return to its high-octance performance for the Packers to reach the playoffs.