GREEN BAY — There were the two interceptions, the sack and countless other plays that should’ve amounted to the best game of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s young NFL career.
However, the only thing the Packers’ third-year safety could think about following Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was the one play that slipped from his grasp.
Trailing by five points with 3 minutes, 19 seconds remaining, the Packers had the Colts’ offense facing a third-and-10 when defensive coordinator Dom Capers dialed up a safety blitz.
Clinton-Dix timed his jump perfectly to get an open shot at sacking Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck. He got both hands on Luck, but couldn’t get the 6-foot-4, 240-pound quarterback down.
Luck stayed on his feet and completed a 20-yard pass to Jack Doyle to help put away the victory.
“That’s all I’ll remember,” said Clinton-Dix afterward. “Until I play next Sunday, the one only thing I’ll remember is the last play of the game on third down.”
Clinton-Dix’s overall performance went a long way toward the Packers being in position to win the game, with his two first-quarter interceptions off Luck energizing the defense early.
Defensive lineman Mike Daniels helped pressure Luck into throwing an interception to Clinton-Dix on his first pass attempt of the game, which the Packers safety returned for 20 yards to the Colts’ 29.
On Indianapolis’ third series, defensive back Micah Hyde stayed with a scrambling Luck, who forced a pass high for Doyle that fell into the waiting arms of Clinton-Dix.
The two turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game helped the Packers overcome a 99-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff that put Green Bay behind from the start.
While the Packers weren’t able to capitalize on Clinton-Dix’s first pick, his second set up Green Bay’s first touchdown on a 26-yard pass to Jordy Nelson at the end of the first quarter.
“He’s an amazing player and he’s one of the leaders on our defense,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “For him to do that, it just brings that energy to us and I think those were crucial turnovers in the game to stop what was happening in the first half and give us momentum moving forward.”
Clinton-Dix, who finished with three tackles, also shared a sack with linebacker Nick Perry on third-and-7 midway through the second quarter to force the Colts to punt.
It was one of eight hits the Packers registered on Luck, who was held to a 56.6 passer rating at halftime. Yet, he stayed in the pocket and continued to move Indianapolis’ offense.
A 15-play, 96-yard series at the end of the first half left a sour taste in defense’s mouth and helped stake the Colts to a 24-10 halftime lead.
Indianapolis’ offense scored only one more time in the second half on a 4-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore in the fourth quarter, but it gave the Colts enough room to ride out a late rally from the Packers’ offense.
Clinton-Dix felt he was “very close” to securing what would’ve been the first multi-sack game of his career. Making sure to not go low on the quarterback – a point of emphasis for penalties this year – Clinton-Dix couldn’t get Luck down.
The defense still had one more chance to give the ball back to the offense, but it gave up a 27-yard completion to T.Y. Hilton on third-and-2 with 2:21 remaining to end any hopes of a Green Bay comeback.
As much as his two picks helped lift the defense, Clinton-Dix took little solace in his stat line. It was about winning the game and the Packers didn’t get that done.
“I hang my hat on that third-down sack I missed,” Clinton-Dix said. “That’s the only thing I can hang my hat on right now. That’s it.”
Inside the locker room, the Packers’ defensive players appreciated what Clinton-Dix did to keep Green Bay in the contest. While it didn’t equate to a victory, it’s the type of performance the Packers believe will pay off.
Green Bay still held Indianapolis to only 85 rushing yards on 28 carries (3.0 per attempt) and limited Luck to a 74.0 passer rating, two statistics Clinton-Dix played a role in registering.
“I thought he played with maniacal effort,” elephant linebacker Datone Jones said. “Oh my gosh, he was everywhere. Anytime you’re intercepting the ball, you’re giving the ball back to the offense, we’re doing our job.”
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