The Indianapolis Colts pulled off an inspiring 30-27 upset over the Green Bay Packers without head coach Chuck Pagano on the sidelines.
Pagano was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia during the team's bye week and took a leave of absence to undergo treatment. Bruce Arians coached the team today and did a fantastic job leading a comeback victory.
The Packers took a 21-3 lead at halftime, and this game went as many expected it to through the first 30 minutes. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had two touchdown passes, and John Kuhn also scored on a two-yard run.
But Andrew Luck threw for a touchdown and ran for another in a 16-point explosion from the Colts in the third quarter. The Packers were unable to respond and were blanked during the period.
The Colts took their first lead of the game on an Adam Vinatieri field goal with 8:04 remaining in the game, but Rodgers responded with a touchdown pass to James Jones. This would end up being Green Bay's only points of the second half.
Luck then drove the team down the field and found Reggie Wayne for a touchdown with just 35 seconds left, and Donald Brown got into the end zone for the two-point conversion, giving the Colts a three-point lead. This catch capped off an incredible day for Wayne.
Rodgers gave kicker Mason Crosby a chance to make a 51-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, but his attempt was nowhere near the uprights, and Indianapolis won its second game of the season.
Tweets of the Day
Surprised at this result? You are not alone, and country music legend Charlie Daniels shared your astonishment.
Colts beat the PackersWho would have guessed?— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) October 7, 2012
Colts Win!!!! #CHUCKSTRONG— Indianapolis Colts (@nflcolts) October 7, 2012
ESPN's Rachel Nichols reported that Reggie Wayne was delivering on a promise as he shredded the Packers secondary.
Spoke to Reggie Wayne this week after he'd visited Chuck Pagano in the hospital - was determined to bring Pagano a game ball, make him proud— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 7, 2012
Bleacher Report and Cheesehead TV writer Zach Kruse noted that this loss was painful for Packers fans, but it is not a doomsday scenario for the team's 2012 season.
#Packers were 3-3 at one point in 2010. This is a bad, bad loss—inexplicable, really—but let's not jump off the cliff.— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) October 7, 2012
Grades for Key Packers Players
Aaron Rodgers: C+
It appeared that the prolific passer who dominated in 2011 was back in the first half, but Rodgers failed to continue his success in the third and fourth quarters. He once again provided a decent performance that was nothing close to special.
He completed 21-of-33 passes for 243 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. These are perfectly adequate numbers, but not elite. That is acceptable when the team wins, but that was not the case today.
James Jones: B+
Greg Jennings has struggled with injuries this season, and Jordy Nelson has not been as explosive as he was last season. However, Jones has stepped up and produced thus far in 2012.
He caught two touchdown passes today and had four catches for 46 yards. This was his second consecutive game with two touchdown catches, and he has been a bright spot for the Packers this year.
Charles Woodson: C
Woodson had the task of guarding Reggie Wayne for much of the game and was unable to slow down the Colts star. While the Packers secondary as a whole is to blame for this, Woodson is the leader of the group and bears the most responsibility.
The group was awful last season and has turned in both good and bad performances this year. This game was not one of its better efforts. The inability to guard Wayne heavily contributed to the loss.
Grades for Key Colts Players
Reggie Wayne: A+
Andrew Luck once again relied heavily upon Wayne, targeting him 20 times in the game. Wayne delivered with 13 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown.
He was far and away the Colts' best player in this game, and his touchdown catch ended up winning the game for the team. While the entire Indianapolis team played inspired football, no one was more fired up than Wayne.
Andrew Luck: A-
Luck was asked to throw the ball 55 times today, and completed 31 passes for 362 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. While these are not stellar numbers, it was Luck's ability to play well late in this game that allowed him to stand out.
He made play after play in the second half and led the team on a game-winning drive, capping it off with a touchdown pass to Wayne. His immense talent was fully on display in this contest.
Indianapolis Defensive Line: A
Rodgers' lackluster performances this season cannot be placed solely on his shoulders, as his offensive line has completely failed to provide adequate protection at times. The Indianapolis defensive line took full advantage of the struggling blockers and accounted for four of the Colts' five sacks.
All of the team's sacks came in the second half, with four in the fourth quarter. The pass rush was a significant factor in the team's comeback.