Colts Lose to Packers, 34-14, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – History, surroundings and lore meant little to the Colts Sunday.
As Head Coach Tony Dungy saw it, what mattered was this:
The Colts, playing in historic Lambeau Field – a venue that has been the home of a multitude of Hall of Famers and some of the NFL's most-legendary moments – for the first time in nearly a decade, did too many of the things that Dungy said they have done too often this season.
Too many mistakes. Too many missed opunities. Too many penalties.
Mainly, too much inconsistency.
The Colts, who entered the game with the momentum of their first winning streak of the season, sustained their first road loss of the season – and their first loss anywhere in nearly a month – as the Green Bay Packers took a 10-point halftime lead en route to a 34-14 victory in front of 71,010 on a gray, mid-October afternoon.
"It was a very, very disappointing game, obviously," Dungy said after his eighth loss in eight trips to Lambeau Field, with the first seven coming when he was the head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001.
"It's kind of the way we've been all year. We've been up and down, and not consistent. We showed more of that today. It's disappointing that we didn't play better and give ourselves a chance to win. Green Bay took advantage of everything. They played smarter and sharper than we did.
"Consequently, they won the game by a big score."
The loss was the Colts first on the road this season after victories in Houston and Minnesota, and their first loss in October since 2004. The Colts had won nine of their last 10 regular-season road games dating to last season.
"It was one of those where you got taken out back behind the woodshed – everything just gets handed to you," Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. "The one thing about it is, it's early. We have a long season left. We just have to get a winning streak going."
The Colts last time the Colts were .500 or under after October 15 was 2002, Dungy's first season with the team.
"I can't really give you the one simple answer and kind of summarize what's going on," said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who completed 21 of 42 passes for 229 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions – each of which were returned for touchdowns – for a passer rating of 46.6.
"We just need to play better. I need to play better and we have to find a way to get into the end zone. . . . Our offense needs to try to get the lead to help our defense a little bit. We didn't do our job offensively today and I didn't do my job."
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions, slipped three games behind unbeaten division-leading Tennessee (6-0), a 34-10 winner at Kansas City Sunday. The loss also moved them into a tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars for second place in the division.
The Colts will visit Tennessee a week from Monday.
"We have to regroup and play better next week," Manning said. "It's certainly an important game, because it's a division game. Division games count double. I know they're playing very well and they're always tough to play there.
"When you get to this point, you do scoreboard watch to see what other teams in the division are doing. You don't want to get too far behind. We need to have a good week of practice this week, regroup and go down there and play much better than we did today, because they're an excellent team."
Said Dungy, "We just have to back to practice on Thursday and see if we can get some things straightened out by just working hard and working on our fundamentals and doing things like we need to get them done and make some improvement."
The Colts, who had won two consecutive games after losses in two of their first three, had won twice on the road this season, each time overcoming double-digit deficits – a 15-point deficit at Minnesota in Week 2 and a 17-point deficit at Houston in Week 5.
This time – a week after a 31-3 victory over Baltimore, their largest margin of victory in more than a season – there was no comeback, no drama.
"We basically beat ourselves," Colts defensive end Raheem Brock said. "We never gave ourselves a chance, really. You can't play like that in this league. We have to be more consistent and play like we did last week every week.
"It's real frustrating, but we have to work on it and keep working on it each week. We have to get better. That's all we can do right now."
The Colts, who last visited Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., in November 2000, fell behind by 10 points at halftime on Sunday, a lead the Packers extended quickly when safety Nick Collins intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of Wayne and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown.
"That was a big, game-changing play," Manning said. "A good job by them catching the tipped ball. That certainly put us behind, put in a catch-up mode, which is a challenge versus these guys."
That gave the Packers a 24-7 lead less than three minutes into the second half, and just under 10 minutes later, a short field goal by Packers kicker Mason Crosby extended the lead the Packers' lead to 20.
It was the Colts' largest deficit of the season, and the largest they had faced since trailing 23-0 in San Diego last November.
The 20-point margin of defeat was the Colts' largest since a 44-17 loss in Jacksonville in December of 2006.
"Honestly, we're playing way too inconsistent," Colts safety Melvin Bullitt said. "Coach Dungy keeps talking about it. As long as we keep playing up and down, we won't win games. We have to get consistent, fix the problems and move forward."
The Packers took the opening kickoff and drove 67 yards, taking a 3-0 lead when Crosby converted a 31-yard field goal with 8:06 remaining in the quarter.
The Colts, who took leads of 10-0 and 31-0 en route to victories their last two games, took the lead on the ensuing possession, driving 70 yards on 10 plays. Running back Dominic Rhodes capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run that made it, 7-3, with 4:06 remaining in the quarter.
But after that, the Packers – with quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing consistently and running back Ryan Grant running effectively – controlled the momentum.
Rodgers, in his first season as the Packers' starting quarterback, completed 16 of 19 first-half passes – including a streak of 13 consecutive completions – for 147 yards and a touchdown to help Green Bay take a 17-7 halftime lead.
Rodgers, who completed 4 of 6 passes in the first quarter, completed his first 11 consecutive passes of the second quarter as Green Bay scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the quarter.
The Packers took a 10-7 lead 45 seconds in the quarter when Rodgers – the backup to longtime Packers starter Brett Favre the last three seasons – completed a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Donald Lee. That capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive.
On the Packers' ensuing series, Grant's 11-yard run capped an 89-yard, 11-play drive and gave Green Bay a 17-7 lead.
The Packers extended the lead to 17 points with Collins' interception return, then pushed it to 20 with Crosby's field goal late in the third quarter.
A 99-yard interception return by safety Aaron Rouse – the longest in Packers history – finished the Packers' scoring with less than five minutes remaining.
"We have 53 guys and about 18 coaches," Dungy said. "Everybody has to do their job. They have to do their job on every play. The same guys who are here who have done their job in the past, we aren't getting it done. We have to practice better. We have to work harder. That's the only way I know how to do it. . . .
"It's disappointing, but again, we've kind of been that way all year. We've had a good series, a good quarter. We haven't strung, really, four quarters together. We haven't strung back-to-back games together. We're just very up and down right now.
"We have to work to get out of that."
Said Manning, "I'm sure we'll see the film and see a lot of correctable errors. That part, hopefully, will be encouraging if it is correctable. We need to do it. We can't keep talking about doing it. You have to actually do it, correct your mistakes and play better.
"That's what I'll be focused on this week, doing my job better and putting our offense in a position to score more points."