For only the second time this season, the Green Bay Packers faced a team with a winning record and lost. After scoring 28-points in the first half and leading 28-14 at halftime, the Packers (7-3) went on to lose to the Indianapolis Colts (7-3) 34-31 in overtime on Sunday.
The loss dropped the Packers out of the top position in the NFC playoff picture, still with six games left.
The Packers played arguably their best half of football this season in the first half, then played one of their worst in the second half.
Aaron Rodgers completed 27 of 38 for 311 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His favorite target, Davante Adams, caught seven passes for 106 yards and a score. But the Packers ground attack managed just 66 yards on 18 carries with Aaron Jones finishing with 41 yards on 10 carries.
The balance that Matt LaFleur continually preached about early in the season, was missing yesterday. The Packers passed it 38 times and ran it only 18 times, despite being ahead for most of the game.
Defensively, the Packers run stopping struggles continued, mainly in the second half. Former Badger Jonathan Taylor had his best day as a pro, rushing for 90 yards on 22 carries (4.1 avg). Taylor also caught four passes for 24 yards, leading his team in receptions. Phillip Rivers spread the ball around to 11 different receivers on the day.
The Packers started the second half in dime coverage, thinking the Colts would come out throwing the ball in the second half after being down by 14. But the Colts ran it and by the time defensive coordinator Mike Pettine adjusted, Indy had the momentum and the Packers didn’t have an answer.
Green Bay ran just six plays in the third quarter, a pair of three-and-outs.
If Matt LaFleur needs a lesson in offensive balance, the need look no further than the stat sheet. The Colts, despite trailing most of the game, ran it 37 times and passed it 36 times.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught a 47-yard pass late in regulation which led to Mason Crosby’s 26-yard field goal to tie the game 31-31 and force overtime. Then, it was Valdes-Scantling that caught a short pass on the second play of overtime and had it stripped by rookie Julian Blackmon and recovered by the Colts. Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship followed a short time later with a 39-yard field goal to win it in overtime.
Blankenship had his first field goal try it the crossbar from 50-yards and bounce back. He hit on his next four for the Colts.
The Packers, after going the first half of the season with minimal turnovers, now has six of them in the last two games. This time special teams added to the mix, after Darrius Shepherd fumbled a kickoff return to add to a number of short returns. Packers punter JK Scott, who wasn’t even sure if he was going to play on Sunday for personal reasons, punted three times for an average of just 39 yards a punt.
The Packers return to Lambeau Field this Sunday night to face the Chicago Bears (5-5). Chicago is coming off of its bye week.