INDIANAPOLIS—Mike McCarthy didn’t allow five sacks to dampen his view of his offense’s production or the thrill of victory, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers pronounced himself and his offense ready to go for the start of the regular season following Friday night’s 24-21, come-from-behind win over the Indianapolis Colts.
“I thought there was a lot of production offensively. The sacks were a big negative. The no-huddle was what you’re looking for. The negatives were point production and the sacks,” McCarthy said in capsule evaluation of his team’s performance in improving its preseason record to 2-1 with one game remaining.
“There are things we need to clean up. We have six days to Kansas City and 13 days to the Saints,” McCarthy added.
The Packers will open the regular season at home against the New Orleans Saints, in a clash between the last two Super Bowl champions. Are the Packers ready to go?
“Yes,” Rodgers said. “I think we did some good things but we have to finish those drives out.”
Rodgers completed 19 of 23 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and a 118.1 passer rating in a half of action. He was sharp but he was also sacked four times and forced to scramble on a few other occasions.
“Guys were tired and the fundamentals went a little bit. Freeney is one of the best in the business. We need to protect a little better,” Rodgers said.
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney made for a long night for Packers left tackle Chad Clifton. Freeney finished the night with two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries.
The Packers took a 10-0 lead but saw it turn into a 14-10 deficit by halftime. The offense struggled under backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell, until Harrell and a unit of twos and threes rallied for an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 21-21 when Harrell completed a two-point conversion pass to rookie tight end Ryan Taylor. Harrell and Taylor had combined for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds to play in regulation.
McCarthy went for the tie, and if that was surprising given the fact that it was a preseason game he was threatening to send into overtime, his strategy to attempt an onside kick was certainly no surprise.
“We get it and we get a chance to kick a field goal. They get it and they get a chance to kick a field goal,” Rodgers explained.
The Packers got it and following completions by Harrell to rookies Tori Gurley and D.J. Williams, Mason Crosby booted a game-winning, 50-yard, walk-off field goal.
“Graham did a very good job. I understand kicking the extra point and going home healthier. I think that’s a terrible message to the team. It was important to give our players a chance to be successful,” McCarthy said.
“I thought that kick was great for Mason and I thought it was great for our sideline. Any time you win a game in that fashion it’s healthy,” the coach added.
Harrell had just thrown an interception that led to a Colts touchdown that looked as though it would clinch the win. The long, game-tying drive he engineered erased the bad taste from the interception. He finished the night 12 of 21 for 85 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 62.6 passer rating.
Flynn was four of six for 32 yards and a 79.9 rating.
“It was a lot of fun,” Harrell said.
For the third consecutive week, the no-huddle offense kick-started the Packers. The Packers went to the no-huddle in just their second series of the game.
“The decision to go no-huddle in the first half happened at halftime of the Arizona game. I wanted to max out the first 30 minutes with our first offense; get the most snaps possible,” McCarthy said.
Better pass-protection would seem to be the goal in what remains of the Packers’ preparation for their opener against the Saints on Sept. 8.