That was coach Mike McCarthy's game plan, and it was evident early in Sunday's 34-14 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau Field.
After the Packers kicked a field goal on their opening drive to take a 3-0 lead, McCarthy called for an onside kick, a gutsy maneuver given the perils of giving the ball to Peyton Manning inside of midfield.
While the ball skittered out of bounds and Mason Crosby kicked the ball deep on the re-do, McCarthy had set the tone with a game plan that called for the Packers to play keepaway from Manning and Co.
Early in the second quarter, McCarthy continued his bold strategy. With the Packers leading 10-7 and facing a fourth-and-1 from their 44-yard line, McCarthy elected to go for the first down rather than punt. The Colts called timeout but McCarthy didn't flinch. Sticking with his original play call, fullback John Kuhn led the way on Ryan Grant's 7-yard run.
The Packers turned that possession into a touchdown and a 17-7 lead, and the rout was on.
"It was more of an approach going into the game," McCarthy said. "I wanted to be aggressive and control the clock. That's the way we wanted the first half to go. I think they had three series from their offense (in the first half). You have to take those chances sometimes."
The tale of the tape in the first half told the story. The Packers led 17-7 at halftime behind a 230-88 edge in yardage, an almost-11-minute advantage in time of possession and a season-high 19 first downs. The Colts' offense got on the field just four times in the first half, and the fourth was to take a knee to run out the clock.
"I wanted to be aggressive from an offensive standpoint," McCarthy said. "Ball control was at a premium, and we were able to accomplish that in the first half. The ability to steal a series away from their offense. We have a lot of respect for that group (the Colts' offense), and we were just trying to be aggressive with those guys."
As for the onside kick, it almost worked. With the Colts' return unit in full retreat, Will Blackmon was in position to grab the ball but it skipped past him and went out of bounds.
"It's something we saw during the week that we thought we had a chance," McCarthy said. "The ball kind of skipped on Mason and skipped out of bounds, but as far as the block and the timing of it with Charlie Peprah and Will Blackmon, I thought we had a chance over there."
Driver sets records
By catching three passes in a four-play span midway through the second quarter, Donald Driver set some team records.
With a diving 24-yard catch between a pair of defenders, Driver broke Antonio Freeman's Lambeau Field record of 3,477 receiving yards. He entered the game 18 yards behind Freeman, and finished with four catches for 35 yards. Then, with back-to-back 3-yard catches, Driver tied then passed James Lofton for second place on the Packers' career receptions list. Lofton had 530 catches with Green Bay. Sterling Sharpe holds the record with 595.
The next record in Driver's sights: consecutive games with a catch. He has one in 102 consecutive games, one behind Sharpe's team record.
In Week 1 against Minnesota, the Packers went conservative at the end of the first half, electing to kick a field goal rather than take a quick shot in the end zone. The move backfired when Mason Crosby's field goal was blocked.
On Sunday, the Packers again went for a field goal at the end of the first half when there was time on the clock to throw a pass into the end zone. This time, Crosby's field goal was blown wide left.
McCarthy went conservative late in the third quarter, too. On third-and-10 from the Colts' 14-yard line, he ran Grant for 3 yards. Crosby made the field goal to give the Packers a 27-7 lead.
The Packers sustained only one injury, a stinger that ended rookie defensive end Jeremy Thompson's day in the second half.
Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, provided his third consecutive strong performance since injuring his right throwing shoulder. He went 21-of-28 passing for 186 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has passer ratings of 109.4 against Atlanta, 111.5 against Seattle and 104.2 against Indianapolis with 70.5 percent accuracy.
"It's improving," Rodgers said of his shoulder. "When I originally hurt it, I just kind of wanted to get to this week and hoping that this would be a turning point for the injury. I'll be doing rehab the next few days and going home and continuing to do rehab back home, and hopefully come back next week and turn the corner on it."
The wind at kickoff was 20 mph, and it was no more evident than in the kicking game. The first four kickoffs toward the north end zone were for touchbacks. The only one that wasn't, in the fourth quarter by Crosby, was a high floater to the goal line that was returned just 14 yards.
For once, the Packers – the most-penalized team in the NFL – benefited from a deluge of yellow flags.
In all, 21 penalties were walked off, including 12 for a whopping 110 yards against the Colts.
A 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness against Marlin Jackson and a defensive holding on Tim Jennings on third-and-9 helped the Packers kick a field goal on the opening drive. Pass interference on Jennings against Greg Jennings gave the Packers 23 yards en route to a go-ahead touchdown and 10-7 lead. A false start helped doom the Colts' next drive, and another penalty against Tim Jennings gave the Packers a first down as they marched to a 17-7 lead.
"Green Bay played smarter and sharper than we did, and consequently won the game by a big score," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
"We just basically beat ourselves with penalties," defensive tackle Raheem Brock said. "We never gave ourselves a chance. We try to get the ball to our offense as much as possible, and not being able to get off the field just hurt us."
For Green Bay, the inactives were safety Atari Bigby (hamstring); cornerback Al Harris (spleen); defensive end Jason Hunter (hamstring); tackle Breno Giacomini; guard Allen Barbre; receiver James Jones (knee); defensive end Mike Montgomery (ankle); and Brian Brohm (third quarterback).
For the Colts, the inactives were All-Pro safety Bob Sanders (knee); defensive back Kelvin Hayden (knee); running back Joseph Addai (hamstring); tight end Gijon Anderson (ankle); linebacker Buster Davis; tackle Dan Federkeil (shoulder); receiver Roy Hall (knee); defensive end Curtis Johnson.
Brett Favre text-messaged Sports Illustrated's Peter King and said a report that he called the Lions to spill the beans about the Packers' offense before the Week 2 game at Detroit, was bogus. The New York media, curiously, did not ask Favre about the report after the Jets' overtime loss at Oakland. … Rodgers completed 13 consecutive passes in the first half before a clock-killing spike. … Attendance of 71,010 marked the 273rd consecutive sellout at Lambeau Field. … Rouse's 99-yard interception return for a touchdown tied Tim Lewis' 24-year-old team record. It was Rouse's first career touchdown. "Anytime you get to put that next to your name, it's a nice accomplishment," McCarthy said. … With a 9-yard run late in the game, Grant finished with 105 yards and his first 100-yard game of the season. He also scored his first touchdown of the season. … Johnny Jolly's blocked field goal in the third quarter was the first by the Packers since Nov. 6, 2005, by Cullen Jenkins. … The Colts had won 13 consecutive games in October dating to 2004. … The Packers have won five straight against AFC squads.
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org