GREEN BAY, Wisc. – Teams do not often come into Lambeau Field and do what the Colts did to the Packers on Sunday afternoon.
In easily their finest performance of 2016, (and one of the best ever under Chuck Pagano), the Colts did exactly what they hadn't been able to do for the first half 2016.
The objective was to paly complementary football.
Coming to Lambeau and facing the Packers didn't appear to be the place that was going to happen.
The Colts thought, and showed, otherwise.
"We fed off each other and that's the way it's supposed to be," Andrew Luck said of all three units combining for the 31-26 victory.
"It was a total team effort. When we were in a little lull (the defense) picked us up. And when they were in a little lull, I feel like they picked us up."
On Friday, Chuck Pagano went out of his way to detail the specific message he had for his team, one that was a touchdown underdog going into a place they hadn't won since 1988.*
Win the first and last five minutes of each half.*
The words sounded daunting, because the Colts hadn't been able to do that on a consistent basis this season.
Sunday was different though.
- The first five minutes? It was won thanks to Jordan Todman's 99-yard kick return for a touchdown, the first the team has had since the 2012 regular season finale.
- The last five minutes of the first half? With Green Bay down 17-10 and getting the ball to start the third quarter, the Colts took over at their own four-yard line with 5:44 left in the second quarter. Andrew Luck showed some major resolve in bouncing back from two first-quarter interceptions, in leading a 15-play, 96-yard touchdown drive. It was Luck's back shoulder throw to Donte Moncrief that sent the visitors into halftime up 24-10, and bringing out the boo birds from the passionate faithful at Lambeau.
- The first five minutes of the second half? A 6:17 drive by the Packers to start the third quarter ended with zero points. Darius Butler's diving interception, with his mini-clubbed hand and all, was the first pick Aaron Rodgers had thrown in 133 attempts.
- The last five minutes of the game? Lambeau was in a fervor with the Packers clawing back with two quick fourth-quarter touchdowns, cutting the Indy lead to 31-26 with 3:29 remaining. Could the Colts finish? Two third-down conversions with Andrew Luck finding Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton sealed the envelope on the team heading into the bye week with a vital win.
"We knew we were going to be aggressive," Chuck Pagano said after the Colts moved to 4-5 on the season.
"Everybody knew where we were and what the stakes were. It's a whole different world today. 4-5 is way different than going back home and being 3-6."
The list of reasons why the Colts came to Lambeau and got the victory were long:
-A game-changing kick return.
-A defensive performance that had Aaron Rodgers looking so un-Rodgers like for much of Sunday.
-A quarterback in Luck bouncing back from two early picks, and playing behind a line that protected soundly against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
In a week that Robert Mathis labeled as "put up or shut up" even the quarterback knew the Colts just had to find a way to get this one, and maintain striking distance with the second half of 2016 now underway.
"I probably wouldn't have said that before the game, but we did, we needed it," Luck admitted after the final gun had sounded.
"We needed it for ourselves. We know we can be a good team. There's things we have to clean up. We need to stack these together. But we needed this in a bad way."