Reggie Wayne looked like, well, Reggie Wayne.
Combined, the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback-receiver combination led the way on a stunning comeback that beat the Green Bay Packers 30-27 on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It wasn't the biggest meltdown in Packers history. In 1952, Gene Ronzani's Packers led 28-6 through three quarters and lost to the Los Angeles Rams. In 1957, Lisle Blackbourn's team led the Rams 24-3 at halftime but lost 31-27. In 1983, Bart Starr's Packers led the Falcons 21-0 in the second quarter but lost 47-41 in overtime.
"My football team is not playing the way we're capable of playing," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I feel like we underachieved, to be frank, and that starts with me. That's my responsibility."
While McCarthy couldn't find answers on offense, coordinator Dom Capers' defense couldn't find any answers against Wayne.
It was, indeed, Wayne's World.
The veteran receiver caught 13 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, including a one-handed, 30-yard grab that helped the Colts score their only points of the first half. The entire Packers wide receiver corps, meanwhile, combined for 11 catches for 171 yards.
"(Wayne) made some great plays for his team," cornerback Tramon Williams said. "They moved him around the field. He's made for that offense. Everything about that offense, that's Reggie Wayne, and he showed it today."
Trailing 21-3 at halftime, the Colts started their rally after picking off Rodgers at the Green Bay 39. On the first play, Luck hit Wayne for 18 yards to help Indianapolis pull within 21-10. On the first play of a Colts drive that put them ahead 22-21, Luck hit Wayne for 26 yards.
Wayne dominated the winning drive. On third-and-9 from the 21, Luck hit Wayne for 15 yards. On second-and-3 from the 43, Luck connected with Wayne for 12. On third-and-12 from the Packers' 47, it was Lucky to Wayne for 15. On the next play, Wayne got open for 18 yards to the 14. Fittingly, on first-and-goal from the 4, Wayne caught a short pass in front of Williams for the touchdown.
The Colts finished with 464 yards, 28 first downs and 35:16 in possession of time.
"It's obviously disappointing," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "Every time we kind of had a chance to put them away, they made a big play it seemed like. Obviously, Reggie Wayne had a huge day. They ran the ball decently at times when they had to. You let a team back in the game like that, at their place, their fans got into it and they took the momentum of the game. You can't let that happen. What we did as a defense, we let them … we didn't let them, they took it and made plays."
Last season, the Packers' defense gave up yards but at least salvaged things with takeaways. In 2011, they tied for the league lead with 38 takeaways and paced the league with 110 since Capers took over in 2009. Through five games, the Packers have forced just five turnovers – four against Jay Cutler and an interception of Luck by rookie Casey Hayward on Sunday.
There were chances for the defense to get that big play, including an incredible sequence early in the second quarter.
On third-and-5 with the Colts backed up at their 25, Nick Perry charged in unblocked and leveled Luck, with D.J. Smith recovering a fumble, but Perry was flagged for leading with his head. McCarthy said that was "probably the right call."
After a running play, Clay Matthews sacked Luck and forced a fumble but Smith couldn't scoop it up and the ball dribbled out of bounds. One play later, Woodson ran into Williams as Williams was in position for an easy interception. The Colts punted but the Packers lost 51 yards of field position and untold momentum.
A few plays before the Colts took a 22-21 lead, Williams used incredible vision to move to his left to prevent a touchdown.
"I was close (to an interception," he said. "It hit me in the hands – it hit the tip of my hands. I probably could have gone after it a little more and maybe got to it but I just saw a guy wide open in the back of the end zone and ran and tried to make a play."
Finally, on the winning drive, Matthews had Luck lined up for a sack on third-and-12. With Matthews on his back, Luck somehow shook free and hit Wayne for the first down to the Packers' 32.
"Big kid, elusive, slippery," Matthews said. "Unfortunately, there wasn't much pressure in his face to get him to get back on his heels, but I just didn't get him down. That's ultimately what it boils down. He's a big kid, he's very elusive and unfortunately that was a big play in the drive."
After winning their matchups against Jay Cutler and Russell Wilson, the Packers have been sliced and diced by Drew Brees and Luck. With the NFC boasting nine teams with at least three wins, are the Packers running out of time?
"We're going in to Game 6. We've got a lot of time left," Williams said. "Running out of time? That's ridiculous, man. We lost this game but we've got another strong team coming in next week. We've got to put this out of our head and move on."
Williams, of course, is right. There are 11 games left, which is plenty of time to catch Minnesota (4-1) and Chicago (4-1) in the NFC North. But the same thing was said last year and, instead of plugging the holes to right the ship, the ship only filled with water faster.
"You've got to win the next one," Woodson said. "It's not really rocket science. We've got to win the next one. We've put ourselves in a hole. The only thing you can hang your hat on is that it's still early in the season and you've got a long way to go. But when you have teams down 21-3, you can't lose. And that's the bottom line."