GREEN BAY – Last week against the Falcons, the Packers hardly ever blitzed, not wanting to expose a banged-up secondary to too much one-on-one coverage.
This past week against the Colts, the Packers blitzed plenty, not wanting to allow Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck to have the time for all the downfield routes – the Colts’ bread-and-butter – to develop.
It became a hit-or-miss proposition, with Luck burning the extra pressure at times, and with the Packers effectively slowing them down at others.
This sequence of plays, presented in chronological order, focuses only on six-man rushes (the Packers also rushed five several times in the game). In each instance, the two “extra” rushers are highlighted, and their impact on the play, or lack thereof, is visible.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 47, first quarter, 7:00 left
Result: 20-yard completion to WR T.Y. Hilton
The Colts execute the protection perfectly, as RT Joe Haeg (73) handles Packers S Morgan Burnett (42) coming off the edge, and RB Frank Gore (23) picks up LB Blake Martinez (50) knifing through the middle. With just five Packers in coverage and a clean pocket around him, Luck finds Hilton in open space over the middle for a big gain.
Play No. 2: Second-and-7 from the Indianapolis 30, second quarter, 9:29 left
Result: Incomplete pass
This time the two extra rushers are both inside LBs, Martinez (50) and Jake Ryan (47). Ryan is the one who gets to Luck, and his desperation throw falls harmlessly incomplete.
Play No. 3: Second-and-8 from the Indianapolis 20, second quarter, 3:35 left
Result: 17-yard completion to Hilton
Like the first play, the two extra rushers are again Martinez (50) and Burnett (42), but Martinez gets caught up in traffic in the middle, and Burnett is pushed aside by two Colts blockers. Coming out of a bunch formation to the QB’s left, Hilton makes a nifty shake move in the open field to get some room and Luck finds him.
Play No. 4: Second-and-10 from the Indianapolis 25, fourth quarter, 3:24 left
Result: Incomplete pass
As the Packers continue to mix up the blitz packages, this time the two extra rushers are both safeties, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) from the top side and Kentrell Brice (29) from the bottom. The pocket is quickly collapsing around Luck, and it also helps that Hilton slips on his route, resulting in the incompletion.
The next play, of course, is when Clinton-Dix blitzes again (as part of a five-man rush) and gets a clean run at Luck but can’t bring him down, and the Colts convert on third-and-10. But the Packers got one last chance to stop them.
Play No. 5: Third-and-2 from the Green Bay 47, fourth quarter, 2:21 left
Result: 27-yard completion to Hilton
With the game on the line, the Packers have a five-man front in case the Colts try to run, and Ryan (47) becomes the sixth rusher. But Luck takes a deep drop out of the shotgun, no one gets close to him, and he steps into the game-clinching throw to an open Hilton on a post route.
The Colts’ leading receiver, Hilton had 60 of his 82 yards in the game on these plays with Luck facing the six-man rush.