More On Packers 34, Indianapolis 14

I already did a quick recap, but I'm finished watching the Rays beat the Red Sox. Now I want to kick the tires more on the win over Indianapolis.

On a baseball note, I watched the game five collapse at Boston. Tampa had a 7-0 (SEVEN RUNS!!!) lead and blew it. That should have been the end of them, but they came back and won game 7. If you don't already know who David Price is, there is still plenty of time to learn.

Back to football. This was the first game this season that:

  • QB Aaron Rodgers didn't have more passing yards than his opponent.
  • An opposing running back had 20 carries and did not run for over 100 yards.
  • RB Ryan Grant ran for 100 yards.

None of these three items above was the key to the game. Rodgers didn't have any turnovers. RB Dominic Rhodes is not a good running back and it didn't look like the run defense did anything better in this game (except it was a great game for DT Ryan Pickett). Grant had over 100 yards, but it took him over 30 carries to get there.

What decided the game was the secondary. QB Peyton Manning was well protected, as usual. He's always one of the least sacked QBs in the NFL. They didn't force him into many, if any, bad throws. But the secondary locked down the Colts' receivers and came up with two huge INTs that were both returned for TDs. Those turned the final score into a blowout. I was worried that they would struggle against a good pass offense. They've looked great against some lousy QBs (Tavaris Jackson, Jon Kitna, Brian Griese, Charlie Frye) and I thought Manning would be a different story. But the secondary is for real.

4-3, sitting tied on top of the NFC North going into the bye week, is not a bad place to be. They've got a brutal game in two weeks at Tennessee. Indianapolis plays at Tennessee next week on Monday Night Football to give some indication of how the Packers might play against them.

 

First Quarter:

  • The 14 yard carry by RB Ryan Grant to start the game, a sweep off right tackle and into the open field, made me believe that the 2007 running game was back. Unfortunately, it was one of the rare big runs. He had a couple other big runs in the game, but the Colts' run defense is struggling as much as the Packers' run defense so it's not impressive that it took him over 30 carries to gain just over 100 yards.
  • Two big Colt penalties keep the first FG drive alive. Usually the Packers are the team struggling with penalties, but today it was the Colts.
  • Indianapolis ran RB Dominic Rhodes right at them on the Colts' 70 yard TD drive to take the lead. Although Rhodes had 7 carries on the 10 play drive, most of the yards came elsewhere (24 pass, 15 penalty). Having DT Ryan Pickett back for this game was real important, he was solid in the middle and the Colts didn't push him around. After battling through an injury all last week, it seemed like he wouldn't play, but having him back when there is currently no depth behind him was huge.

Second Quarter:

  • TD pass to TE Donald Lee. It's great to see QB Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around. When the offense struggled against Dallas and at Tampa, I thought that was a big part of the reason. It really keeps defenses on their heels when WR Jordy Nelson or WR Ruvell Martin is just as likely to catch a pass as WR Greg Jennings.
  • The 11 yard TD run by Grant was a thing of beauty. The offensive line, and the other blockers, cleared a path off the left tackle straight through to the end zone. A couple sharp passes to Driver and Martin, plus some more Colts' penalties, powered that drive.
  • It killed Indianapolis that they only had the ball for about 5 minutes and only had one first down conversion in the half. Their defense couldn't get off the field. Every time the Packers had the ball in the 1st half, they had it for a long time and they scored (until K Mason Crosby missed a 36 yard FG that he makes 9 times out of 10). 

Third Quarter:

  • The Colts had some life to start the 2nd half. The Packers had missed a field goal to end the 1st half, and now they were driving. The Packers pass rush wasn't laying a finger on QB Peyton Manning. Although the Colts' receivers hadn't done much, Manning just hit TE Dallas Clark for a long pass. Then a tipped pass goes right to S Nick Collins for the INT, who shows off some serious open field moves, and he runs in for the TD. I thought 'game over' afterward.
  • The next drive, the Colts get something going again, but Collins breaks up a TD pass to WR Marvin Harrison. Then DT Colin Cole knocks down a pass on 3rd down. Then DT Johnny Jolly blocks the FG attempt.
  • Has S Nick Collins broken out? I expected him to break out in 2007, but it didn't happen. He actually had seemed to regress in 2007. He did miss a few games with injuries and that apparently effected him more than I knew. He has been outstanding this season.
  • The Packers should have punted, but defensive delay of the game? Just some unbelievable, stupid penalties by the Colts in this game.
  • Two plays later, a short pass to FB Korey Hall who hurdles the defender for 11 yards and the 1st down. It doesn't seem like he should have a big impact on the offense, he rarely catches or runs the ball, but the offense has run the ball better, and Rodgers has spread the ball around to more receivers, since Hall's returned.
  • CB Tramon Williams is a very good cornerback, but he commits a lot of penalties. He committed 3 for 30 yards in this game.

Fourth Quarter:

  • After 4 punts in a row, two by each team, Indianapolis has the ball for about five game minutes (it took much longer in real time due to incompletions and penalties). In the open thread comments, some guys were annoyed that the Packers couldn't get the ball back, but I thought the drive was excellent. It was taking a lot of time, and Manning was running the clock for the Packers (despite their no huddle offense). The Packers made them fight for every yard. Then S Aaron Rouse reads Manning perfectly, cuts off the pass for the INT, and runs back 98 yards for the TD. The Packers had the game in hand before the TD, but it still was a crushing blow.
  • The Colts finally put together a quick scoring drive, although it still takes them 3 minutes and they almost blow it when Clark fumbles near the goal line. The Colts high powered offense isn't as high powered this season as it has been in the past, but the Packers defense did a great job at keeping contained.
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