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Packers collapse in second half

Charged Colts stun Green Bay

October 8, 2012
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers never saw this one coming.

Green Bay had an 18-point halftime lead and seemed to be in control Sunday afternoon.

Then, suddenly, Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne and the rest of the emotionally-charged Colts turned things around on one of the league's marquee franchises.

Article Photos

AP Photo
Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne dives into the end zone while being tackled by Green Bay’s Tramon Williams during the fourth quarter Sunday. The Colts won 30-27.

Playing for an ailing coach Chuck Pagano, Luck rallied the Colts in the second half, throwing for a career-high 362 yards and a 4-yard TD pass to Wayne with 35 seconds to go, giving Indy a stunning 30-27 victory.

"Obviously, a tough week for them. They played with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy," McCarthy said. "Frankly, I'm more focused on my football team and my football team is not playing the way we are capable of playing."

Clearly, these are not the same Packers that spent most of last season chasing a perfect record and a second straight Super Bowl title.

Green Bay (2-3) faces an uphill climb in the NFC North.

They're still struggling to find an offensive rhythm, though it looked as if they might break out of their funk in the first half when Rodgers was 11 of 17 for 122 yards with two touchdown passes to take a 21-3 lead.

But nothing worked in the second half.

Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 51-yarder to the right with three seconds left in the game - a kick that could have forced overtime.

The Packers' defense failed to stop Indy on three third-down conversions during their final drive.

And the only score the Packers mustered over the final 30 minutes came on an 8-yard TD toss from Rodgers to James Jones with 4:30 left in the game, which gave them a 27-22 lead.

Rodgers finished 21 of 33 for 243 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a big dose of frustration.

"We just didn't make any plays," the league's reigning MVP said. "They got a little more aggressive in the second half, we turned the ball over and got them into a two-score game and then we kind of got back mentally into the game."

By then, it was too late to stop a team that had a wild emotional ride, starting with Monday morning's announcement that Pagano had been diagnosed with leukemia after players left for their bye week.

Interim coach Bruce Arians acknowledged he was fighting back tears when he spoke to reporters. From the sounds of it, so were Luck and Wayne.

"I'm sure we were all lying to everybody the whole week, trying to downplay it," Luck said after throwing for a career-high 362 yards. "I think we all went out there wanting to do it for Chuck more than anything else. To see all the emotions on Mr. Irsay's face, BA's, everyone in there, I think it's one of the greatest athletic moments I've ever been a part of."

The sometimes emotional team owner, Jim Irsay, sniffled as he spoke inside a silent locker room before dashing off to the hospital where Pagano is undergoing treatment for leukemia. He wanted to personally deliver the game ball to Pagano, who celebrated his 52nd birthday Tuesday.

Luck and Wayne showed their support in another way.

The No. 1 draft pick was 31 of 55 with two touchdowns and one interception, and ran for a TD, too.

Wayne finished with 13 receptions for a career-high 212 yards.

NOTES: The Packers lost three starters during the game - running back Cedric Benson (ankle), defensive tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) and tight end Jermichael Finley (right shoulder). McCarthy did not have immediate updates after the game.



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