Each of Green Bay’s three quarterbacks performed at a near-perfect level in Thursday’s 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau Field.
For the third consecutive preseason game, Aaron Rodgers looked every bit like an MVP candidate. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 195 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions.
The starting quarterback staked the Packers a 28-17 lead before giving way to the second-team at the beginning of the second half. He exited the game with a 141.2 quarterback rating.
Backup Matt Flynn did almost as well going 8 of 13 for 80 yards with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Perhaps most impressive was his ability to sustain time-consuming drives.
On the their first possession of the second half, Flynn led the Packers on a 15-play drive that ate 6:39 off the clock and extended their lead 31-17 after a Mason Crosby field goal.
Flynn later connected with John Kuhn for a touchdown following a fumble of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and recovered by Robert Francois down to the 3-yard line.
One more time, Flynn led a 7 play, 42 yard drive lasting 2:53 culminating with a touchdown toss to rookie tight end Andrew Quarless to put the Packers up 45-28.
Graham Harrell didn’t get the opportunities afforded Rodgers or Flynn but played well in limited playing time. Harrell finished the game hitting 4 of 5 passes for 62 yards and probably had his best game of the three the Packers have played.
Special teams with special night: For a unit that finished 31 out of 32 teams in the Dallas Morning News’ annual special teams rankings and 32nd by Football Outsiders, the Green Bay Packers special teams had a very positive showing on Thursday’s
The beleaguered unit led by special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum had two touchdowns, the types of plays that could be game changing in the regular season.
Back when they were still down 14-17 and punting from their own 47-yard line, Tim Masthay boomed a 53-yard punt with superb hangtime that resulted in a muff by Colts return man Brandon James and recovered in the end zone by Korey Hall. The Packers would go on to maintain their lead for the rest of the game, outscoring the Colts 45-7 the rest of the way.
In the fourth quarter with only 4:54 left in the game, Packers punt returner Jason Chery contributed to the scoring when he returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown.
With the exception of a 58 yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff, the special teams had an overall solid night including their coverage units.
Up and coming: Rookies on the defensive side of the football had an impressive night for the Green Bay Packers.
Having perhaps the biggest impact, Zombo forced fumble on Peyton Manning that was returned all the way down to the Colts’ 3-yard line, which led to a Packers touchdown.
Second-round draft choice, making his first start in place of the injured Cullen Jenkins, also had a big impact, especially against the run. Playing a lot of the first half, Neal was part of a unit that held the Colts to 81 yards rushing an 18 first downs, which paled in comparison to the Packers’ 33.
In the secondary, third-round draft choice Morgan Burnett displayed the big play ability for which he was so highly touted coming out of college.
Burnett jumped a pass in the right flat thrown by Manning and intended for Pierre Garcon. The ball was returned all the way into the red zone at the Colts’ 18-yard line, but unfortunately the Packers turned the ball back over to Indianapolis on a fumble by running back Brandon Jackson a mere two player later.
Finally, undrafted rookie Sam Shields came up with an interception of his own in the fourth quarter. In a battle to win the fifth, nickel back job if the regular season were held today, Shields notched his second interception of the preseason.
Shields is competing with Brandon Underwood and Pat Lee to play in the Packers’ first-string nickel defense.