INDIANAPOLIS – All the discussions with the defensive players after Sunday’s loss kept coming back to one thing. One name, actually.
The Packers had no answer for the veteran Colts receiver, and he dominated the Green Bay defense throughout the day and particularly on Indianapolis’ game-winning drive in the 30-27 decision at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Wayne finished with 13 catches for 212 yards, including the game-winning 4-yard TD pass with 35 seconds left.
“(Number) 87 made some great plays for his team,” said cornerback Tramon Williams, who along with Charles Woodson was assigned to Wayne most of the game. “They moved him around the field. He’s made for that offense.
“Everything about that offense says Reggie Wayne, and he showed it today.”
Wayne topped 100 yards in each half, with 104 in the first half and 108 in the second. He was particularly lethal on the Colts’ final drive, catching five passes for 64 yards, including back-to-back grabs of 15 and 18 yards just after the two-minute warning that moved the Colts from the Green Bay 47 to the 14.
He was both a security blanket and a playmaker for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck . When Wayne made a spectacular one-handed grab for a 30-yard gain in the second quarter with Woodson all over him, it was as though he wasn’t going to be stopped.
“Reggie Wayne was one of his key guys,” cornerback Sam Shields said of the Colts’ young QB. “Luck was getting it to him.”
The most back-breaking play may have been the first snap following the two-minute warning on Indy’s final drive. The Colts faced third-and-12 from the Green Bay 47, and linebacker Clay Matthews had what appeared to be a clear shot at Luck from the blind side.
Somehow, Luck stayed on his feet and delivered a 15-yard strike to Wayne. Instead of a possible fourth-and-20-some, the Colts had a big first down.
The 6-4, 234-pound Luck showed his toughness throughout the game by absorbing some big hits and eluding others. That time, a sure sack wasn’t to be.
“I thought the same thing,” Matthews said. “Big kid, elusive, slippery. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much pressure in his face to get him back on his heels, but I just didn’t get him down. Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to. Unfortunately, that was a big play in the drive.”
The Packers got the Colts into third down one more time, but Luck’s size allowed him to power through two defenders on a scramble for the first down at the 4. On the next play, Wayne used his muscle to reach the ball out and break the plane of the goal line on a pass he caught around the 1-yard line, capping a 256-yard, 27-point second half for the Colts.
“We’re not where we want to be right now, that’s clearly evident,” Matthews said. “That performance left a lot out there.”
The frustration was noticeable in the tone of some answers, particularly after a first half that saw the Packers allow just three points and take a 21-3 halftime lead.
Williams noted that by directing that kind of comeback, Luck will be “the next-best thing tomorrow,” but his passer rating was just 81.0 and he needed 55 attempts to throw for 362 yards. He wasn’t particularly efficient, except when he was throwing to Wayne, who was Luck's intended target a whopping 20 times.
Wayne was the guy the Packers couldn’t handle, and in the end they didn't know why. Rookie Casey Hayward intercepted a fourth-quarter sideline pass for Wayne, but that was the only play of note the Packers made against him.
“We have to look at ourselves as players and coaches and be accountable for whatever,” Williams said, shaking his head a little and not even sure what to say.
“We need to clean up some things, and make sure it’s cleaned up instead of coming in here week in and week out and saying the same thing.” Additional coverage - Oct. 7