The Green Bay Packers fell to a 4-4 record and slipped to third place in the NFC North after a 31-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The team once again showed more negatives than positives, failing to find a rhythm or sustain any sort of momentum until too late in front of its home crowd. The offense was poor, the defense was average, and the special teams were awful.
The Packers tried to mount a fourth quarter comeback to salvage an otherwise dull showing, but Green Bay was simply unable to overcome an 18-point fourth quarter deficit, a plethora of mistakes, and overall ineffectiveness in another stale and uninspired performance.
The tone for the game was set early, as the Colts returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The Packers offense looked like it might turn the game into a shootout, moving the ball effectively on each of its first two drives.
Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off Andrew Luck twice in the first quarter, giving Aaron Rodgers and the offense excellent opportunities to build a lead. But the offense stalled in the red zone, and Mason Crosby missed a field goal to leave Green Bay with just three points.
The Packers first touchdown of the game came in the closing seconds of the opening quarter, when Rodgers successfully drew an offsides penalty and Jordy Nelson outwrestled an Indianapolis defender for a 26-yard score. Green Bay would be held out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter when the team was already down three scores.
To the team’s credit, they were at least able to make the end interesting. Touchdown passes to Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, both capping off extremely good drives (75 yards in 1:55 and 80 yards in 1:59), cut the Colts’ lead to five, and the defense was a missed Clinton-Dix sack away from getting the ball back in Rodgers’ hands.
But a victory just wasn’t in the cards for Green Bay, and the Colts converted a pair of first downs to close out the game.
After a pair of consecutive stellar games, Rodgers once again slipped back to his early-season woes. He had a respectable 297 yards on 26/43 passing with three touchdowns and an interception, but much of the damage came late in the game with the Packers down by 18.
The play-calling also left something to be desired. Ty Montgomery, working primarily out of the backfield again, gained 53 yards on just seven carries and was rolling early, but Green Bay inexplicably abandoned the run for large periods of time after Montgomery’s early success.
Things were not much better on defense. Clinton-Dix’s two interceptions looked like they could have Luck in for a long day, but the Packers were largely unable to take advantage of an offensive line that had given up the most sacks in the NFL. Luck was sacked just twice, as the defense was unable to bring Luck down even when pressure got close. Despite spurts where the unit played well, they ultimately failed to get the final stop needed to give Green Bay a chance.
The run defense was mostly effective, limiting the Colts to a team average of just three yards per carry, but running back Frank Gore was able to rush for a pair of touchdowns.
It remains evident that something needs to change for the Packers. The offense displays signs of turning the corner, like against the Bears and Falcons, but just a week later reverted to an inability to consistently move the football. Diverse packages and play-calling seemed to offer a remedy, but once again the team moved away from those looks for most of the game against the Colts.
So at the official midpoint of the Packers’ season, the coaching staff and players alike need to figure out how to get the season on track. A team that once had Super Bowl aspirations prior to the season will now have its work cut out to simply make the postseason.
A matchup against the upstart next week will be telling for Green Bay. The Packers still control their own destiny, sitting just a game back of the Vikings and a half game behind the Lions. But failing to fix things—and do so quickly—could the end to a once-promising season.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .