36 to 6. That was the breakdown of the total number of offensive snaps that the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers had from the start of the third quarter to the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter on Sunday.
Two three-and-outs by the Packers offense and a fumbled kickoff return by Darrius Shepherd turned a 28-14 Green Bay lead at halftime into a 31-28 Colts edge in the fourth quarter, with the Packers barely touching the football. To make matters worse, the Packers’ failed third-down attempts on their two failed drives both came in short-yardage situations: a third-and-4 and a third-and-1.
Short yardage plays have seemingly been the Packers’ bugaboo at times this season. On attempts of four yards or less on third and fourth downs, Green Bay has converted 33 times on 59 attempts for a conversion rate of about 56 percent. That’s actually similar to the numbers for the Kansas City Chiefs this season in the same situations — KC is 27 for 46 for a conversion rate of 58 percent.
Perhaps it is the timing of the failed attempts that is so frustrating, whether they come on back-to-back series like in this game, near the goal line, or in other situations. But whatever the reason or the breakdown, in this game those failed conversions let the Colts take complete control of the second half, and it bore out in the snap counts.
Here’s the playing time by player for Sunday’s game.
OFFENSE (60 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 60
Rodgers had another very efficient day throwing the football, much as he did last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 311 yards and three scores, making it his third straight game with over 70 percent completions and over 8 yards per attempt. Furthermore, two of those incompletions were spikes. Still, his interception was a very poor throw that he left short on a hole shot to MVS against cover-two.
Aside from that poor throw, though, Rodgers actually looked pretty dialed in throughout the first half. The offense was clicking early on, as he hit Davante Adams on a beautiful slot fade on the first play of the game for 33 yards. His touchdown passes were actually all pretty easy throws — the first went to a wide-open Tonyan down the middle, the second was an easy screen to Adams where the Packers had the numbers advantage, and the third was a little toss to Jamaal Williams who did the rest of the work.
But again, the second half saw Rodgers miss on both of the third down opportunities, one on a pass over the middle to Adams and the other on a miscommunication with MVS on a back-shoulder pass attempt. Rodgers was also sacked just once on the day.
Aaron Jones 30, Jamaal Williams 30
The two running backs may have split the snaps evenly, but Jones received far more touches. He carried the football ten times for 41 yards, adding an impressive two-yard score, while also catching four passes for 30 yards. Williams had 12 yards on five carries (plus another long gain that was called back for holding), plus that one reception for a four-yard touchdown.
Mike Weber, called up from the practice squad as an emergency option, did not see the field on offense.
Davante Adams 57, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 51, Allen Lazard 36, Equanimeous St. Brown 15, Darrius Shepherd 2
Adams had a quiet day between his big opening catch and the final drive of regulation, but he still managed to finish the day with seven receptions for 106 yards and his score. He had two big catches over the middle for 32 yards on that final drive.
Lazard had a relatively quiet day in his return to the field, catching two of four targets for 18 yards. St. Brown’s one catch was a very impressive one, as he was able to turn up the field for a 23-yard gain, hurdling a defender and nearly staying in bounds to score a touchdown.
Then there was MVS, who was again his hot and cold self. He caught just three of his six targets, and a missed connection with Rodgers cost them one of those short third down conversion possibilities. He also fumbled away the football on the second play of overtime, setting up the Colts’ winning score. But he was a big reason why the Packers scored at the end of each half, drawing a 50-yard pass interference penalty near the end of the second quarter and hauling in a 47-yard bomb from Rodgers on the final drive to keep the Packers’ eventual game-tying drive alive. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have: MVS.
Robert Tonyan 44, Marcedes Lewis 19, Jace Sternberger 16
The tight end group was efficient on Sunday, catching all eight targets that came their way. Tonyan had five grabs for 44 yards and his 25-yard touchdown, Sternberger caught three balls for 23 yards, and Lewis had one catch for 8.
Perhaps the biggest highlight from the group (aside from the touchdown) was Sternberger getting a tremendous block in space to spring Aaron Jones for a nice run.
David Bakhtiari 60, Elgton Jenkins 60, Lucas Patrick 60, Billy Turner 60, Jon Runyan 50, Corey Linsley 10
Corey Linsley made the game’s first mistake, when he snapped the ball into his own backside on the third play from scrimmage. That fumble will get credited to Aaron Rodgers, but the quarterback barely touched the football at all. But Linsley would then leave the field after the Packers’ second drive and his back injury would keep him out for the rest of the game.
No matter, the Packers said. Elgton Jenkins slid over to center, where he played the final 50 snaps and played well. Rookie Jon Runyan substituted in for Jenkins at left guard and barely missed a beat; he had a great block on DeForest Buckner for Jones’ touchdown run and he looks like an absolute steal as a sixth-round pick.
Bakhtiari was flagged once for holding, while Turner allowed the Colts’ only sack to Justin Houston, which was very much a coverage sack as it came after about five seconds.
DEFENSE (84 total plays)
Kenny Clark 64, Dean Lowry 44, Tyler Lancaster 38, Kingsley Keke 31, Billy Winn 7
The Packers’ defense was on the field a ton in the second half, and it showed. But even at the outset of the third quarter, the unit looked different, thanks to some adjustments from the Colts that sprung the running game. By the time the Packers adjusted and put more defensive linemen on the field, it was tough sledding.
Clark led the way on the line and he had a good day against All-Pro Quenton Nelson. Clark had six tackles, a sack, and a second (clean) hit on Philip Rivers that sent him off the field wincing. Clark also drew multiple holding calls on Nelson, and arguably got the better of the matchup over the course of the day.
Lancaster and Winn each had pass deflections, with Winn’s going for an interception. Lancaster’s tip unfortunately fluttered to the turf between a trio of Packers defenders in the secondary.
Za’Darius Smith 75, Preston Smith 67, Rashan Gary 35, Randy Ramsey 3
The Packers’ edge rushers did a great job against the run in the first half, but when the Colts ran inside more after halftime, it lessened their effectiveness. Z and Preston each had a tackle for loss in the run game, and Za’Darius landed two hits on Rivers — including one on Indianapolis’ final drive that was initially called a fumble before being reversed to an incomplete pass on replay. Gary added a QB hit as well.
The unit also got some pressure on Rivers, but had trouble getting home as the veteran quarterback was able to get the ball out on multiple occasions just before the rush brought him down.
Christian Kirksey 84, Kamal Martin 22, Ty Summers 3
The Packers opened up the game in a “true nickel” with Kirksey and Martin together on the field, but moved quickly into their big dime package with Raven Greene at linebacker. Kirksey had an up-and-down day, making a few nice plays in the run game early and coming up with the tipped interception in the first half to set up a Packers touchdown. He also scooped the apparent fumble in the fourth quarter and ran it in for a score only to have the play called back as an incomplete pass.
However, despite his 11 tackles, Kirksey was a liability in coverage on multiple occasions, particularly when the Colts attacked him in zone coverage with some shallow crossers. He was unable to trail Michael Pittman, Jr. on the rookie’s long touchdown catch, and got stuck on a similar play later in the game.
Martin added four tackles in the game but made a minimal impact, while Summers had one assist.
Adrian Amos 84, Darnell Savage 84, Raven Greene 42, Will Redmond 1
The Packers got a pretty good game from their safety group, with Amos and Savage flying around. Amos had seven tackles, including one for a loss, plus a pass breakup on a beautiful, clean hit over the middle. Savage had a breakup of his own and recovered a fumble that Greene punched out from tight end Mo Alie-Cox. Greene finished second on the team with eight tackles.
Jaire Alexander 84, Kevin King 84, Chandon Sullivan 73
The Packers’ starting corners returned for this game and seemingly played sides rather than following receivers for much of the game. Alexander picked up two pass breakups and five tackles, though the Colts found ways to separate him a bit with some rub routes and route combinations. King finished the game with seven tackles, while Sullivan had five tackles and a pass breakup.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Oren Burks 26, Ramsey 26, Redmond 26, Summers 26, Malik Taylor 16, Josh Jackson 15, Vernon Scott 14, Lancaster 13, Lowry 12, Sullivan 12, James Burgess 11, Williams 11