The final score notwithstanding, only the Packers left Lambeau feeling concerned. The Colts traditionally treat these preseason games as a mere nuisance. They had allowed 71 points in the first two games, both losses, and are now 4-21 in the fake games since 2005. Yet nobody doubts their championship credentials.
Green Bay, on the other hand, is supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, with only a suspect defense standing between it and suburban Dallas in February. Well, that defense remains suspect through three preseason games.
Nonetheless, with Aaron Rodgers completing 21-of-29 passes for 195 yards in the first half alone, the Packers improved to 2-1 heading into the most irrelevant game in all of sports – next week's preseason finale at Kansas City.
Peyton Manning and Joseph Addai staked the Colts to a 17-7 lead in barely more than 15 minutes before the Packers took command. Indy piled up 179 yards of offense in that first quarter.
"We made some adjustments, but on some of the plays we kind of just made some mistakes and they kind of played off our leverage a little bit," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We made some adjustments and we made some more plays in the air. One of our biggest challenges is facing these good quarterbacks like this, and we have to show we can do it."
Green Bay answered with 31 consecutive points. A bust in coverage resulted in Jermichael Finley standing all alone in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception to make it 17-14. Then came the key play of the game, with Tim Masthay's bomb of a punt being slightly misjudged by Brandon James. The ball shot right through his hands and bounced into the end zone, where Korey Hall pounced for a touchdown that put the Packers in front 21-17.
The Packers stopped the Colts on back-to-back possessions, first on Morgan Burnett's brilliant read for an interception and then a punt. After the punt, Rodgers drove the Packers 78 yards in the final 1:33, with Finley hauling in passes of 10, 25 and 15 yards on a series of plays interrupted only by a clock-killing spike. A short completion to Jordy Nelson would have turned into a short field-goal attempt to end the half, but Colts defensive back Kelvin Hayden foolishly stripped the ball from Nelson's hands long after the whistle for a delay-of-game infraction. Given a free play, James Jones overpowered Terrail Lambert in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown with 4 seconds remaining to make it 28-17.
"That's something we've been working on for awhile now," Rodgers said of the two-minute drill, which struggled for most of camp. "We made enough plays and I thought we handled the clock very well. J.J. made a nice play for the touchdown.
And that was it for the Packers' starters on both offense and defense, while the Colts stuck with their starters through the first series of the third quarter.
It didn't matter. Flynn led the offense to a field goal. On third-and-long, Frank Zombo's extra-effort sack and strip of Manning turned into a 35-yard return by Robert Francois to the Colts' 2. On the next play, Flynn dumped the ball to John Kuhn for his third preseason touchdown and a 38-17 lead with 6:43 to go in the third quarter.
Speedy receiver Jason Chery capped the scoring with a 75-yard punt return touchdown.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.