INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts shouldn’t have stopped at confetti. The entire second half was a celebration, a coronation. Halftime debris scattered across the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Andrew Luck Era truly began.
Owner Jim Irsay really should have opened the roof and set off fireworks after the Colts’ 30-27 win over the Green Bay Packers.
A rookie outplayed a league MVP. Game on the line, Luck made the plays Aaron Rodgers could not.
No, this foggy 2-3 start for the Packers does not fall solely on Rodgers’ shoulders. The Packers have other issues. A lot of issues. But the Colts were the team in rebuilding mode. And whereas Luck willed his team to a win, Rodgers could not. Two stiff road tests on tap, it may fall on Rodgers to dig the Packers out of this early-season hole.
Agonize over injuries, the secondary, Lance Easley, the play-calling all you want. Rodgers is the player fresh off arguably the greatest single season ever for a quarterback.
The Packers might need extraordinary, not ordinary, play from their leader. Even if coaches won’t go there.
“He’s had a solid year compared to the standard that he’s played to, but we’re a different team this year,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “And that’s always the case. It never just always stays the same. We have a couple new players on offense... I thought Cedric [Benson] was really coming on the last couple weeks, I was excited about him, what he brings to the table. Now our younger backs will have to give us that because we need the run game. It’s important.
“I’m not interested in throwing it 50 times a game. So we just need to be more consistent.”
Urgency is rising. A foot injury will sideline Benson this week and beyond. ESPN reported he’ll be out 8 weeks with a Lisfranc injury. Any shift in identity – toward true, keep-them-honest balance – likely is on hold. The Packers need Rodgers to rediscover at least some of his 2011 touch when the midgame tidal wave of offense was expected.
His final line wasn’t bad Sunday. Rodgers completed 21 of 33 passes for 243 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. But good isn’t good enough for the Packers this season.
A handful of mistakes cost Rodgers against Luck’s Colts. He overthrew Jordy Nelson for a potential 67-yard touchdown, also with Randall Cobb open deep over the middle. Trailing in the fourth quarter, he held on to the ball a full 5 seconds before getting sacked by Moises Fokou.
And Indianapolis’ comeback began in the third quarter when Rodgers also threw an interception. Hard to tell on camera, Rodgers said the ball was tipped.
Rodgers’ patience is a weapon, a major reason he threw for 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions last year. But five games in, the sacks continue. The lack of explosive plays continues. In Houston and St. Louis, the Packers need some magic from No. 12. Benson’s absence is a blow to the offense.
Up next: Packers at Texans, 7:20 Sunday
Line: Texans by 3 1/2