As the 2-2 Green Bay Packers prepare to take on the 1-2 Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, let us take a look back on the history between these two teams, and then look at how the matchup on Sunday looks to shape up.
The Packers and Colts have played 41 times in the regular season, and the series is knotted up at 20-20-1. The two teams have also met once in the postseason, in a classic matchup in 1965. More on that later.
The first time the two teams met was in 1953, when the Colts were in Baltimore. The Packers won the first four games in the series, but that all changed once a great young quarterback named Johnny Unitas came on the scene for the Colts.
Unitas led the Colts to back to back NFL championships in 1958 and 1959, and he also led the Colts to a 6-2 record vs. the Pack from 1956-1959.
Then in 1960, something changed. It was Vince Lombardi's second year in Green Bay and he decided to make Bart Starr his regular quarterback midway through the season.
Starr and Unitas matched up 14 times in their career, and they were both 7-7 in those games. Without a doubt, the two quarterbacks were the very best in the NFL in those days.
Unitas lead the Colts to three NFL championships, including one Super Bowl win, while Starr led the Packers to five NFL titles, including two Super Bowl wins, with Starr being named MVP in each of those games.
Unitas was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, as well as being named first-team All-Pro six times. Unitas was also NFL MVP three times.
Starr was named to the Pro Bowl four times and was also first-team All-Pro twice. Starr was also named the NFL MVP in 1966.
Both Unitas and Starr were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of their prowess as signal callers. Both quarterbacks called their own plays too. That is almost unheard of in today's NFL.
But in probably the most famous game ever played between the two teams, Unitas didn't play at all, while Starr only played the first moment of the game at quarterback before he was injured.
I'm talking about the 1965 Western Conference Championship game played at Lambeau Field. Unitas wasn't available to play because of a knee injury. Backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo also couldn't play due to injury, so halfback Tom Matte had to play quarterback, a position he had played at Ohio State in college.
Starr started the game at quarterback for the Packers, but after tight end Bill Anderson fumbled the ball just seconds into the game, Starr injured his ribs trying to tackle linebacker Don Shinnick of the Colts as he scored a touchdown.
From then on, Starr was relegated to holding for field goals and extra points, as backup quarterback Zeke Bratkowski came into the game at quarterback for the Packers.
The Colts led 10-0 at halftime, but the Packers scored a touchdown in the third quarter and then kicked a very controversial field goal late in the game to tie the score 10-10.
The kick was very controversial because to many observers, kicker Don Chandler of the Packers appeared to have his kick veer to the right before going over the crossbar. Still, the officials ruled the kick was good. Chandler kicked another field goal in overtime, as the Packers won 13-10.
Because of that hotly debated field goal, the NFL extended the goal posts' height the following season.
The first time the Packers and Colts played after the Colts moved to Indianapolis (1984) was in 1985, when the Packers lost to the Colts 37-10 in Indy.
Since then, the two teams have met seven times, with the Colts holding a 4-3 edge. The Packers have never won a regular season game in Indianapolis.
That could change this Sunday, as most experts give the Packers a clear advantage in the contest.
The Green Bay offense is only ranked 20th, but the offense looked a lot like the prolific offense of 2011 last week vs. the New Orleans Saints. The Colts defense is ranked 17th in the NFL, but the secondary is ravaged by injuries, as cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Justin King have been declared out for the game.
Expect Aaron Rodgers to have a big game vs. the Colts, as long as the offensive line can protect Rodgers while he is attempting to pass. That's a concern, as the Packers have given up the most sacks in the NFL (16), although Rodgers hasn't been sacked for six straight quarters.
Rodgers also had his best game of the season last week against the Saints, when he threw three touchdown passes and threw for over 300 yards.
The Packers are ranked 9th in total defense, including sixth in passing defense, as the Packers prepare to take on rookie quarterback Andrew Luck of the Colts.
Expect the Packers to try and pressure Luck in the passing game, as the Packers are sixth in the NFL in sacks.
That being said, Luck has looked pretty good as a rookie, as he has led the Colts to the 12th ranked passing offense in the NFL and has only been sacked five times.
Expect veteran defensive backs like Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams to try and bate Luck into throwing some picks as they disguise their coverages.
The Packers may have one of the best special teams units in the NFL right now, led by kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and kick returner Randall Cobb. The Colts are pretty good too, led by kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee.
Bottom line, expect the Packers to take advantage of the secondary of the Colts, and to force Luck into making some errors in the passing game. That will all lead to a victory for the Packers, which will be their first ever win in Indianapolis and will also give the Packers a 21-20-1 advantage in their history with the Colts, which dates back to 1953.
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