NFL Preseason 2011: Colts Lose to Packers 24-21 At the Wire

The Colts started slowly in the first half, with Linkenbach allowing a sack on a third down, leading to a McAfee punt. The defense forced a third and out, but was let down by the offense, which went three and out with Linkenbach allowing pressure from Clay Matthews again.

On the Packers second drive, they went 81 yards for a touchdown, ending with an 18 yard pass to Jermichael Finley, who was singled with Pat Angerer. The pass coverage was horrendous on this drive, as the zone was getting picked apart by Aaron Rodgers without any viable pass rush. The Colts again had to punt, as Garcon dropped a tough 3rd down pass. This led to another field goal as the zone coverage was torn apart, specifically Jacob Lacey, who looked like Tim Jennings on the drive.

The Colts attempted to answer with the next drive, as Curtis Painter led them on a drive to the Packers 20. The drive was kept alive by Painter's connecting with Reggie Wayne multiple times (who lived up to his promise to make Painter look good), but stalled when he tried to force a throw to him on third down. Adam Vinatieri missed the field goal. The Colts again forced a punt, as Dwight Freeney had his second sack of the game.

After the punt, the offense started moving again, resulting in a 57 yard touchdown pass from Curtis Painter to Reggie Wayne on 3rd and 9. Painter did a good job of looking off Wayne to the underneath receiver, Chris Brooks, and both the cornerback and safety bit hard, leading to a wide open Wayne. After the PAT, the Colts were down 7-10.

The Packers drove down the field once again, but the Colts redzone defense stepped it up again, leading to a missed 41 yard field goal. With 1:55 left in the half, Curtis Painter led the Colts' offense on a 9-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. Painter showed good confidence on the drive, ending with a pretty throw to Chris Brooks in the corner of the endzone for a 7-yard touchdown pass, his second on the night. That gave the Colts their first lead of the preseason, as they lead 14-13.

The Packers ran one play to end the half, and the Colts went into the half ahead, a shocker for Colts fans, as there wasn't many expectations going into the game, considering the Colts' attitude towards the preseason, Painter's play so far, and the disappointment that has occurred in the other two games.

That was the majority of meaningful action in the game, but there was a little excitement late in the fourth quarter. Safety Mike Newton came up with an interception on an overthrow by Graham Harrell (he'd nearly picked off a pass earlier as well) and returned it 39 yards to the Green Bay 2-yard line. On the next play, David Gilreath took a screen pass to the pylon for a touchdown. Gilreath had also had a 30 yard punt return earlier in the quarter.

The Packers went on an eleven-play, 73 yard drive to score a touchdown with 35 seconds left, aided by back to back 15-yard penalties on Chip Vaughn (late hit, and taunting). He likely will be gone after cuts, as even Caldwell looked pretty angry after the second penalty, yanking Vaughn from the game. The Pack scored the two point conversion to tie the game, then recovered an onside kick. That led to a 50 yard field goal to end the game.

Packers won, 24-21. Although the Packers won, Colts fans should be encouraged by the strong play of the first stringers, especially the offensive and defensive lines. I know I should temper my excitement, but there was some very good signs from the first team tonight. Also, Peyton Manning had an interview in which he sounded very hopeful for being ready by Week One.

“I sure hope so. I’ve never missed a game in my football career because of an injury since I was 13 years old. I sure don’t want to start Week 1 of this season on the bench.  That’s my goal to be out there to play and not just play but play competitively. . . .  That’s my goal.  I want to help the team win. If I’m able to do so, I’ll be out there.”

Between that and the play of the starters, especially in the second quarter, it was a good night for the Colts. Look for a more detailed review by Coltsider's Kyle Mason coming soon. UPDATE: Kyle Mason and Stewart Blake both wrote reviews for the game. You can read Kyle's here, and Stew's here.

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.