INDIANAPOLIS-- The Colts wanted to see growth and leadership qualities from their young quarterback, Curtis Painter. They got it.
The Indianapolis team was also looking for cohesion and improved play from its revamped offensive line. Check.
And the Colts came into Friday night's preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium seeking a strong performance from the front-line players in their defense. They got that, too.
The Colts turned in a solid performance, scoring 14 first-half points with their starting group against the visiting Green Bay Packers. However, Indy's opportunity for its first preseason win in three 2011 tries disappeared as time expired and Green Bay's Mason Crosby connected on a 50-yard field goal. The Packers won, 24-21.
Green Bay's M.D. Jennings set up the winning field goal, recovering his team's onside kick with 35 seconds left. Earlier, Graham Harrell hit Ryan Taylor with an 11-yard scoring pass, and the same pair connected for a two-point conversion that tied it at 21-all.
Except for the ending, however, Colts Coach Jim Caldwell was happy with his team's performance.
"A real fine effort against a good football team," Caldwell said about the Colts. "I think it was important that the offense really started to come together, and I think they did. They did a very nice job of balancing our offensive scheme in terms of run and pass."
Painter threw a pair of touchdown passes as he completed 11-of-21 for 171 yards with zero interceptions. The second quarter proved especially productive for the former Purdue quarterback, who hit 9-of-15 for 159 yards and both of his scores to lead Indy to a 14-10 halftime lead over last season's Super Bowl champions.
Painter experienced a rough start to the preseason while starting quarterback Peyton Manning continued his rehabilitation from off-season neck surgery. But Painter showed his resilience Friday night.
"His real strength is the fact he doesn't let a whole lot of things get under his skin that affect his performance," Caldwell said. "He's pretty steady. He's been very, very good in those situations. … Obviously he was able to step up and make some things happen, which is good."
Reggie Wayne led Colts receivers with six catches for 105 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown in the second quarter when he and Painter took advantage of some busted coverage.
"Reggie is a play-maker," Caldwell said. "That's the way he's played since he walked onto our fields here, and even before that, obviously in college. Reggie makes big plays all the time. He's a real professional. He did a tremendous job."
The offensive line, with rookie Anthony Castonzo starting at left tackle and veteran Ryan Diem moving from right tackle to right guard, turned in nice work. The Colts totaled 112 rushing yards, led by Joseph Addai's 44. Addai and Donald Brown ran for 52 yards in the first half as the Colts used primarily their starting group.
The Colts' defense was led by a stout performance by end Dwight Freeney, who had two sacks. Indy's second-quarter stand inside the red zone kept the Packers from scoring when they moved to the Colts' 17. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers on third down and forced a field goal try. Crosby missed from 41 yards.
On Green Bay's game-tying drive in the final minutes, Colts defensive back Chip Vaughn was penalized on successive plays for unnecessary roughness and taunting. The penalties helped Green Bay sustain the march.
"The bad thing is obviously at the end," Caldwell said. "It's just not smart play and not what we're accustomed to doing and certainly not what we're going to tolerate. It just put us in a bad situation and they took advantage of it."
* SCORING RECAP*
FIRST QUARTER (4:40 remaining)
The Packers got on the scoreboard first as quarterback Aaron Rodgers led them on a 10-play, 81-yard drive that consumed 4:40. Rodgers hit six straight passes to finish the march, including the 18-yard touchdown to Jermichael Finley. The first of Rodgers' six consecutive completions went for 20 yards to Donald Driver, setting the tone. Mason Crosby kicked the extra point. Packers 7, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (12:41 remaining)
Rodgers went back to work in the second quarter, hitting passes of 11, 10, 12 and 11 yards, all for first downs. However, a third-down sack by the Colts' Dwight Freeney forced Green Bay to go for the field goal, which Crosby hit from 26 yards. The drive went 14 plays and 61 yards in 5:50. Packers 10, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (5:33 remaining)
Quarterback Curtis Painter hit Reggie Wayne with a 57-yard scoring pass to bring the Colts within three points. Wayne took advantage of a coverage bust by the Packers and ran down the left sideline without a defender. Painter moved in the pocket, saw Wayne and then delivered an on-the-mark throw. The drive went five plays and 69 yards in 2:04. Adam Vinatieri kicked the extra point. Packers 10 Colts 7
SECOND QUARTER (26 seconds remaining)
Painter stayed hot on the Colts' next series, completing 5-of-7 passes for 60 yards. He led the Colts on a nine-play, 69-yard drive that culminated with a 7-yard scoring pass to Chris Brooks. The big play was a 36-yard completion to Pierre Garcon, who sprawled on the turf as he made the catch at the Packers 7-yard line. Vinatieri his the extra point. Colts 14, Packers 10
THIRD QUARTER (8:45 remaining)
A sack of Painter by Green Bay's Vic So'oto forced the Colts quarterback to fumble, and Jarius Wynn recovered for the Packers. The Packers took over at the Colts' 20-yard line, but Indy's defense stiffened. Crosby kicked a 32-yard field goal four plays later. Colts 14, Packers 13
* *FOURTH QUARTER (3:52 remaining)
Indy's Mike Newton intercepted a pass by Green Bay's Graham Harrell and dodged his way to a 39-yard return to the Packers' 3-yard line. Quarterback Dan Orlovsky passed to David Gilreath for the score on the next play. Vinatieri connected on the extra point. Colts 21, Packers 13
FOURTH QUARTER (35 seconds remaining)
The Packers tied it up on an 11-play, 73-yard scoring drive that consumed 3:17. Harrell hit Ryan Taylor with an 11-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. The same pair connected for the two-point conversion. Packers 21, Colts 21
FOURTH QUARTER (0:00 remaining)
Green Bay's Crosby hit a 50-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers the win. It completed a five-play, 20-yard drive that began after the Packers recovered an onside kick. Packers 24, Colts 21