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Pack regains swagger with 34-14 win over Colts

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Associated Press
October 19, 2008
— An undermanned defense returned two Peyton Manning passes for touchdowns and the Green Bay Packers rediscovered their swagger in a 34-14 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers gutted out his third straight game with a sprained right shoulder, going 21-for-28 for 186 yards and a touchdown despite 30-mph wind gusts at Lambeau Field.


Ryan Grant had his first 100-yard game of the season, carrying 31 times for 105 yards and a touchdown as the Packers (4-3) have won two straight after snapping a three-game losing streak at Seattle last Sunday.


Green Bay has a bye next week then plays at Tennessee Nov. 2.


"This one was very sweet for us," Rodgers said.


And they're going into the break with plenty of momentum, thanks in large part to a defense that held Manning to 21-of-42 for 229 yards and two interceptions.


Both interceptions were returned for touchdowns, as safety Nick Collins ran one back 62 yards in the third quarter and Aaron Rouse returned one 99 yards to put the game out of Manning's reach in the fourth quarter.


It's the worst start to a season for Indianapolis (3-3) since 2001 the last time the Colts didn't make the playoffs. It's also their first loss in the month of October since a 2004 game at Kansas City.


Colts coach Tony Dungy said he couldn't remember a sloppier performance during his time with the team.


"It's a very, very disappointing game, obviously," Dungy said. "It's the way we've been all year. We've been up and down, not consistent, and we showed more of that today. They played smarter and sharper than we did."


It was a particularly disheartening performance by the Colts' defense, which seemed to be on its way to proving it could win without injured safety Bob Sanders in Indianapolis' victory over Baltimore last week.


Sanders sat out again with a knee injury, as did cornerback Kelvin Hayden and it showed. The Colts committed 12 penalties, many of them on defense.


The Colts' defense spent so much time on the field that Manning didn't have many chances to answer the Packers' sustained scoring drives. And when he did have the ball, he didn't look particularly sharp against a Packers defense also playing without two starters in its secondary.


And unlike earlier games against Minnesota and Houston, Manning couldn't orchestrate a comeback. Instead, Manning was victimized by the Packers' undermanned secondary just after halftime.


Facing third-and-6 at the Packers 48 on the first drive of the second half, Manning's pass skimmed off Reggie Wayne's fingertips and landed in the hands of safety Collins, who rambled 62 yards for a touchdown to put the Packers ahead 24-7 with 12:28 left in the second quarter.


Collins made another big play on the Colts' next possession, breaking up a deep pass that could have gone for a touchdown to wide-open wide receiver Marvin Harrison. The Colts had to settle for a field-goal attempt on the drive, and Packers lineman Johnny Jolly blocked a 45-yard attempt by Adam Vinatieri.


With the Colts driving in the fourth quarter, Rouse stepped in front of wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez to grab the ball, returning it 99 yards for a touchdown to put the Packers ahead 34-7.


The Packers' strong secondary performance came without cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bibgy, who continued to sit out because of injuries.


Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his defensive backs did a better job of being physical with Indianapolis' receivers than they did during their losing streak.


"That's the way we play," McCarthy said. "That's who we are."


The Colts were without running back Joseph Addai because of a hamstring injury. Backup Dominic Rhodes carried 20 times for 73 yards for the Colts.


Rhodes gave the Colts an early 7-3 lead with a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Rodgers answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Donald Lee, finishing a drive that was helped along by a pass interference penalty on Colts cornerback Tim Jennings.


Rodgers led an 11-play drive just before halftime, handing off to Grant for an 11-yard touchdown to give Green Bay a 17-7 lead.



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