A Capsule Look at Sunday's Colts-Packers Game
COLTS (3-2) vs. PACKERS (3-3)
Sunday, 4:15 p.m. EDT
Surface: DD GrassMaster
Green Bay, Wis.
Colts – Tony Dungy, seventh season as Colts Head Coach (76-25, 83-30 including playoffs) and 12th season as NFL Head Coach (130-67, 139-76 including playoffs).
Packers – Mike McCarthy, 3rd season as Packers and NFL Head Coach (24-14, 25-15 including postseason).
Colts – 3-2, 2nd in AFC South.
Packers – 3-3, T-1st in NFC North.
LAST TIME IN PLAYOFFS
Colts – 2007.
Packers – 2007.
2008 NFL RANKINGS
Offense – Overall, 17th (317.4 yards per game); Rushing, 32nd (69.4 ypg); Passing, 8th (248.0 ypg); Defense – Overall, 21st (334.4 yards per game); Rushing, 29th (153.3 ypg); Passing, 7th (164.5 ypg).
Offense – Offense – Overall, 14th (333.3 yards per game); Rushing, 21st (98.5 ypg); Passing, 10th (234.8 ypg); Defense – Overall, 20th (332.2 yards per game); Rushing, 27th (153.3 ypg); Passing, 8th (178.8 ypg).
Colts – Peyton Manning (115-182 completions, 1,302 yards, 63.2 pct., 8 TD, 5 INT, 87.8 passer rating).
Packers – Aaron Rodgers (124-193 completions, 1,482 yards, 64.2 pct., 11 TD, 4 INT, 98.0 passer rating).
Colts – Joseph Addai (62 carries, 216 yards, 4 TD); Dominic Rhodes (32 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD).
Packers – Ryan Grant (106 carries, 359 yards, 0 TD).
Colts – Reggie Wayne (33 receptions, 468 yards, 4 TD); Anthony Gonzalez (21 receptions, 258 yards, 0 TD); Marvin Harrison (20 receptions, 247 yards, 3 TD).
Packers – Greg Jennings (34 receptions, 653 yards, 4 TD), Donald Driver (25 receptions, 295 yards, 2 TD).
Colts – Robert Mathis (5), Dwight Freeney (3).
Packers – Aaron Kampman (6).
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?
Colts – The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions, lost two of their first three games before winning back-to-back games after a Week 3 bye week. They lost their regular-season opener, 29-13, to the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium, and lost to Jacksonville on a last-minute field goal in Week 3, 23-21. They rallied in dramatic fashion for their first two victories on the road – from a 15-point, third-quarter deficit to beat Minnesota, 18-15, in Week 2, then from a 17-point deficit with 4:04 remaining to beat the Houston Texans, 31-27 in Week 4. The Colts beat the Baltimore Ravens, 31-3, at Lucas Oil Stadium this past Sunday.
Packers – The Packers, after a 2-0 start, lost three consecutive games before rallying from a first-half deficit in Seattle this past Sunday to even their record and move into a first-place tie in the NFC North. Green Bay lost at home against Dallas, 27-16, in Week 3, then lost at Tampa Bay, 30-21, the following week before losing at home to Atlanta, 27-24. They beat Seattle Sunday, 27-17.
QUOTES TO NOTE
"I remember, as an assistant in 1993 – I was the (defensive) coordinator at Minnesota and you have to come down through the stands (at Lambeau Field) to get back to the field after the game – but, I remember walking down through the stands and people just shaking their head and saying, 'If Mike Holmgren doesn't get rid of this quarterback (Brett Favre), we'll never win. He throws too many interceptions and he's too antsy in the pocket.' I think they won some games after that. That's my one memory (of Lambeau Field)."
--- Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy
"Last week was a big win for us. We needed to right the ship. We had lost three in a row and hadn't played a complete game yet, and then Seattle was a good example of when you play a complete game with offense, defense and special teams, you can win in this league. We did a nice job moving the ball on offense, finished some drives off, long drives. We had three drives over 12 plays with points. Our defense did a great job of getting us the ball back and special teams put us in situations with a short field. That all added up to a win in a tough environment."
--- Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy
The Packers, a season after coming within minutes of the Super Bowl last season, have dealt with significant injuries and adversity this season, but after a come-from-behind victory over Seattle last weekend, they are tied with Chicago and Minnesota atop the NFC North.
Green Bay in the off-season traded longtime quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets, opting to start at quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the franchise's first-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Rodgers, who played collegiately at California, has completed 124 of 193 passes for 1,482 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions. He sustained a shoulder injury in a Week 4 loss to Tampa Bay and reinjured the shoulder against Seattle.
"He's playing through an injury right now and still winning games doing so," Colts Vice President of Football Operations Chris Polian said. "Unless you're there, you don't know how difficult a place Seattle is to play in. We don't see it a whole lot on television here, but it's a real difficult place to play. They (the Packers) went in and got a win on the road Sunday.
"Aaron has been around a few years, but it's really his first time playing. He's at a 64 percent completion percentage and 11 touchdowns versus four interceptions, so he's doing a real good job. He has 13 sacks, so he's doing a real good job of avoiding negative plays, and putting them in a position to win."
The Packers, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said, haven't changed dramatically with Rodgers at quarterback.
"They're similar on offense to the way they played in the past," Dungy said. "They still have the same system. Rodgers is doing everything Favre did. We have to get ready for that throwing game and that downhill running game from (running back) Ryan Grant."
Grant originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants, but in two seasons, did not play for New York. He was traded to the Packers before last season, and after playing sparingly the first six games, took over as the featured back and finished the season with 956 yards and eight touchdowns on 188 carries.
He set franchise records with 201 yards and three touchdowns rushing in 42-20 Divisional Playoff victory over Seattle following the season. Grant this season has rushed for 359 yards and no touchdowns on 106 carries.
The Packers' defense is coordinated by longtime college and NFL assistant Bob Sanders, a linebackers coach with the Miami Dolphins from 2001-2004.
Dungy said the Packers' defensive style is similar to the early-decade Dolphins of defensive end Jason Taylor, middle linebacker Zack Thomas and cornerbacks Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain.
"Defensively, they're more like the (Miami) Dolphins we played in the past – same coaching system and style, press corners, a lot of big inside defensive lineman and fast outside guys to pressure the passer," Dungy said. "So, it's really – for some of the guys who have been around a long time – it is going to be like playing against the Dolphins."
It's a defense that has been hurt significantly this season by injuries, with several defensive linemen out for the season or extended periods with injuries.
Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett sustained a hand injury against Seattle and his status is uncertain. Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris is expected to miss Sunday's game recovering from a spleen injury.
Three key head-to-heads . . .
• Colts defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney versus Packers offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Mathis and Freeney have been effective on a consistent basis through the first five games, combining for seven sacks and 14 quarterback pressures. Mathis, the team's sacks leader over the past three seasons, has had four sacks in the last two games, including three sacks last week against Baltimore, when he also forced and recovered a fumble. Freeney, after missing the last seven games of last season, has gotten quality pressure on opposing quarterbacks throughout the season and has three sacks in five games. Clifton, a nine-year veteran, played in his first Pro Bowl last season and Tauscher is a nine-year veteran who has started the last eight seasons.
• Colts wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison versus Packers cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. Wayne, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, is having one of his best statistical seasons, and caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown against Baltimore last week. He caught 11 passes for 184 yards in the last Packer-Colts meeting in 2004. Harrison, after missing 11 games with a knee injury last season, has started the first five games of the season, and last week, he had his first multiple-touchdown game since 2006. Woodson, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, remains one of the NFL's best cover corners, and Williams is a former practice-squad player who has started three games this season in place of injured starter Al Harris.
• Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett versus Packers running back Ryan Grant. Not a true one-on-one matchup, but how the Colts fare against the Packers' running game likely will be a key. The Colts entered last week's game against Baltimore last in the NFL in rushing defense, but held the Ravens – the NFL's fourth-ranked rushing offense – to 51 yards on 19 carries. Grant, after rushing for nearly 1,000 yards in just over half a season last season, has rushed for 359 yards on 106 carries this season.
PACKERS IN REVIEW
The Packers started the season with back-to-back victories, beating Minnesota, 24-19, at home in the opener and beating Detroit in Week 2, 48-25.
They then lost to three consecutive teams with winning records, losing to then-unbeaten Dallas, 27-16, before losing to Tampa Bay, 30-21; then Atlanta, 27-24.
Green Bay beat Seattle on the road this past weekend, 27-17, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing with a sprained shoulder.
The Packers held Seattle to 177 yards total offense, the first time since 2006 Green Bay held an opponent under 200 total yards. Rodgers, who aggravated an earlier shoulder injury early against Seattle, finished the game having completed 21 of 30 passes for 208 yards and two second-half touchdown passes.
He also ran for a game-tying touchdown with 1:08 remaining in the first half. After being tied, 10-10, at halftime, Green Bay outscored Seattle, 17-0, to start the second half before allowing a late touchdown.
The Packers' home field, Lambeau Field, is not only one of the NFL's legendary venues, it has been a distinct advantage for the team in recent seasons. The Packers, despite losses in their last two home games, have won 10 of their last 13 games there, and since 1992, they have the NFL's best home record in the NFL at 98-33-0. The Colts have won their first two games on the road, and since the 2002 arrival of Head Coach Tony Dungy, they have a record of 35-13 and never have been under .500 on the road in any season. Three times under Dungy – 2003, 2005 and last season – the Colts have gone 7-1 on the road. The Packers last lost three consecutive home games in 2006.
The Packers and Colts once were one of the NFL's fiercest rivals, and the Colts enter Sunday's game leading the all-time regular-season series, 20-19-1. The Packers won the teams' only postseason meeting, 13-10, in a Western Division Playoff following the 1965 season. Green Bay that season went on to win the first of its NFL-record three consecutive World Championships. The teams met twice annually from 1953-1965 as members of the NFL's Western Conference, but have met just nine times since the 1970 Merger and just six times since the Colts' 1984 move to Indianapolis. The Colts last visited historic Lambeau Field in 2000, rallying from a 19-point deficit to lose, 26-24. The Colts are 3-6 all-time at Lambeau Field.
In one of the most memorable Colts victories in recent seasons, Indianapolis beat the Packers, 45-31, on September 26, 2004. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Packers quarterback Brett Favre combined for 753 yards and nine touchdowns passing. Manning – en route to a then-NFL record 49 touchdown single-season touchdown passes – completed 28 of 40 passes for 393 yards and five touchdown with no interceptions for a passer rating of 140.9. All of Manning's touchdown passes came in the first half, with the Colts – playing against an aggressive, blitzing Packers defense – passing on the game's first 22 plays. Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne caught 11 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown and wide receiver Brandon Stokley caught eight passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. After Indianapolis led, 35-17, at halftime, the Packers cut the lead to 38-31 before a late, game-clinching touchdown run by Edgerrin James.