This one was unforgivable. There were no officials to blame this time around. No reason to blame Mason Crosby for missing two long field goals. No reason to blame the first half injuries to Cedric Benson and BJ Raji. The Packers led the Colts 21-3 at halftime and lost. It might be the ugliest loss of the Mike McCarthy era.
As I write this, I have just arrived home after returning from Indy. I don’t remember the last time I witnessed a Packer loss. It might be the NFC Championship game in ’08–Favre’s last game in green and gold. It was a good run. But this one should never have happened. How do you let a team missing two of its top three corners and a gimpy Dwight Freeney hold you scoreless for almost the entire second half?
How do you lose to a rookie QB for the second time this season when he’s playing without a healthy offensive line and with one legit weapon? That weapon, Reggie Wayne, is the one guy the Packers needed to stop. But they couldn’t. His 200 yard day was a thing of beauty. He made one handed catches, leaping catches, it didn’t matter. The Pack couldn’t cover him. They let pedestrian running back Donald Brown average five yards per carry and repeatedly let him beat them to the sideline.
It adds up to a team that right now is going nowhere. The absence of Greg Jennings has caused guys like Jones, Finley and Nelson to need to step up and for the most part they haven’t been up to the challenge. We continue to see untimely drops. I think back to the end of the first half when the Packers had a chance to extend a 21-3 lead with the ball on the 40 and a couple of drops stalled the drive.
The defense is still leaking like a sieve with one key difference from the past two seasons: they’re not creating turnovers. Taking the ball away masked all kinds of deficiencies, but without them they’re playing like an average defense that can be exposed by good quarterbacks. In the first half, Luck moved the ball a bit, but constant blitzes and pressures held the Colts to three points and he headed to the locker room in search of a quick ice bath. In the third quarter, when Green Bay has been at its best in recent seasons, it all fell apart. A Rodgers interception turned the tide and the Colts took charge, erasing the 18 point deficit and moving down the filed effortlessly the rest of the way.
At 2-3 there are more questions than answers. Will Benson, Raji and Finley be healthy enough to play next week? Will the defense right the ship and play four dominant quarters instead of two? And will they begin to get some takeaways? Will the offense find a rhythm and look anything like what we saw in 2011?
And maybe most importantly, if you can’t take care of business against an injury-riddled, young team like the Colts, what in the name of Jim Del Gaizo is in store for the Packers when they head to Houston next Sunday night against the unbeaten Texans with 2-4 staring them in the face?
I have no answers on this Sunday night. It’s been a long day. About two quarters too long.