INDIANAPOLIS--* *A Colts team that struggled to score in the second halves of its first three games came out after halftime on Sunday and produced a comeback for the ages.
The Colts scored 27 second-half points to topple the visiting Green Bay Packers, 30-27. The rally from an 18-point deficit (21-3 at halftime) ties the third-largest comeback in franchise history.
Indy finished it off with a memorable 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in the winning touchdown with 35 seconds left. Andrew Luck connected on 8-of-11 passes on the march. Reggie Wayne caught five passes for 64 yards, including the final four-yard touchdown.
Even with those late heroics, however, nervous time wasn't quite over for the Colts and their fans. They had to watch Green Bay's Mason Crosby miss a 51-yard field goal attempt to the left in the final seconds.
That's when Lucas Oil Stadium erupted.
"It was kind of a storybook ending, and we have a game ball for Chuck (Pagano)," Colts Interim Coach Bruce Arians said afterward. Pagano, the Colts' head coach, missed his first game since he was hospitalized to undergo treatment for leukemia.
And about that second-half comeback, Arians added:
"There was no panic at halftime. We knew what we had to do. We knew it was going to be a very daunting challenge, but we had a friend that was cheering for us pretty hard."
Through their first three games, the Colts (2-2) had been outscored by a 50-16 margin in the second half.
Luck, besides his strong passing on the winning drive, also scrambled seven yards for a first down at the four-yard line. He ran for 24 yards on six carries in the game. He passed for 362 yards on 31-of-55.
"I'm not trading him for anybody in the world right now," Arians said about Luck.
Wayne totaled 13 receptions for 212 yards. The veteran receiver was among the Colts players whom Arians talked with last week, urging them to ramp up for Sunday's game against one of the strongest clubs in the NFL.
"Wednesday, I challenged our five-star players," Arians said. "And our five-star players showed up."
Donald Brown's 84 rushing yards pushed the Colts to a total of 119. Indy outgained the visitors by a 464-356 margin in total yardage.
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, last year's league MVP, completed 21-of-33 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. He also was his team's leading rusher with 57 yards on scrambles. But the Colts sacked him five times, led by a pair from Cory Redding.
Afterward, players in the Colts' locker room savored the moment.
"It was very emotional, as you would know," said Arians. "A lot of tears, a lot of joy, a lot of pride. A band of brothers just came together. I think the team had just overcome something that nobody gave them a shot to do.
"Now we have to move forward," Arians said. "This has got to be a big step for us."
FIRST QUARTER (2:07 remaining)
The Packers inherited a short field after the Colts' offense failed to convert on a fourth-down quarterback sneak at midfield. Green Bay capitalized, marching 56 yards in six plays to take the lead. Aaron Rodgers completed two nice passes, 19 yards to Jordy Nelson and 18 to Cedric Benson, and John Kuhn burst in from 2-yard line for the touchdown. Mason Crosby connected on the extra point.Packers 7, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (12:25 remaining)
An unnecessary roughness penalty flagged on the Colts' Cory Redding helped the Packers, who gained a first down at the Indy 15-yard line. Three plays later, Rodgers fired to James Jones for a 6-yard touchdown. Crosby hit the extra point.Packers 14, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (6:21 remaining)
Adam Vinatieri's 24-yard field goal put the Colts on the board. A marvelous catch by Reggie Wayne set it up a few plays earlier. Wayne hurried down the left side of the field and, with his left hand only, pulled in a 30-yard reception from Andrew Luck. Wayne's right hand was pinned by defender Charles Woodson, who was called for interference, but the penalty was declined.Packers 14, Colts 3
SECOND QUARTER (4:21 remaining)
Another Colts penalty -- this one a pass interference against Cassius Vaughn -- aided and abetted the Packers. The 30-yard penalty set up the visitors at Indy's 36. A few plays later, Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb for a 31-yard touchdown. Crosby made the extra point. Packers 21, Colts 3
THIRD QUARTER (11:06 remaining)
On the home team's first possession of the second half, the Colts' offense heated up. But first, Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers set up his offensive mates by intercepting a Rodgers pass at the Green Bay 39. Luck quickly fired to Reggie Wayne for an 18-yard completion and later scrambled for an important six-yard gain on third down. Luck's pass to Dwayne Allen went for eight yards and the touchdown. Vinatieri hit the extra point.Packers 21, Colts 10
THIRD QUARTER (7:42 remaining)
Three carries for 30 yards by Donald Brown boosted the Colts. When the Indy drive stalled, Vinatieri made a 50-yard field goal to pull the Colts within eight points of the Packers.Packers 21, Colts 13
THIRD QUARTER (18 seconds remaining)
Luck hooked up with Dwayne Allen for a pair of 11-yard receptions that helped the drive. A pass interference penalty against Green Bay's Sam Shields aided the march, too. On third down from the Packers 3, Luck kept the ball on a quarterback draw and barged across the goal. Luck's pass to Wayne for the two-point conversion fell incomplete.Packers 21, Colts 19
FOURTH QUARTER (8:04 remaining)
Luck hit Wayne with a 26-yard pass and connected for another 26 yards with T.Y. Hilton a few plays later. The drive bogged down, but Vinatieri made a 28-yard field goal to give the Colts their first lead of the game.Colts 22, Packers 21
FOURTH QUARTER (4:30 remaining)
A 41-yard run by Alex Green, who went off left tackle and cut back, set up the Packers. Rodgers' 8-yard pass to James Jones was good for the touchdown. Rodgers attempted to hit Jones again for a two-point conversion, but the pass fell incomplete.Packers 27, Colts 22
FOURTH QUARTER (35 seconds remaining)
Luck completed 8-of-11 passes as the Colts marched to the winning score on a 13-play, 80-yard drive. Luck's 4-yard touchdown pass went to Wayne, who totaled five catches for 64 yards on the drive. Brown ran the ball in for a two-point conversion.Colts 30, Packers 27