Packers' defense not in sulking mood after loss in Indy

Allen Lazard returns to the lineup; JK Scott plays

2020-game-notes-UPDATE-2560
LB Christian Kirksey

The Packers have seen enough of Philip Rivers over the years to know how quickly the eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback can turn a game on its head.

Rivers, two weeks shy of his 39th birthday, shook off a nagging foot injury to breathe life back into the Indianapolis Colts' offense while turning a 14-point halftime deficit into a 34-31 comeback victory in overtime at Lucas Oil Stadium.

As well as Green Bay's defense started Sunday – generating two takeaways in the first half – the Colts and Rivers made the proper adjustments in the second half to kickstart their rally.

It started by pounding the football against Green Bay coming out of halftime, running the ball on eight consecutive plays to eventually set up a Rodrigo Blankenship 37-yard field goal that cut Green Bay's lead to 28-17.

However, Rivers made plenty of plays with his arm, too, whether it was his 23-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton in the third quarter to get down to Green Bay's 6-yard line, or starting the fourth with a 20-yard pass to Zac Pascal.

Rivers, regarded for his command of the line of scrimmage, also kept the Packers on their heels with his hard count, drawing Green Bay offside four times on Sunday.

"We know that Philip, he understands the game," inside linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "He's a great quarterback. He was just able to keep his composure and do what he's supposed to do and that's help their offense. He was just able to play good football, and when dealing with a quarterback who's pretty much been there and been in situations like that, he did a good job."

The first half was almost picture-perfect for Green Bay's defense, with safety Raven Greene forcing his first career fumble with his strip of Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox. Fellow safety Darnell Savage then recorded his first NFL fumble recovery on the play.

In the second quarter, Kirksey intercepted Rivers following a tip at the line of scrimmage by defensive lineman Billy Winn. The Packers' offense produced touchdowns off both takeaways. Kirksey nearly had another takeaway – a fumble recovery for a touchdown off a Za'Darius Smith's hit of Rivers in the fourth quarter – but it was overturned on video replay.

The second half was a different story. Former Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor amassed 72 of his 90 rushing yards in the final two quarters to power the Colts to 140 yards on the ground.

The Packers held Indianapolis to 2-of-4 in the red zone but the Colts were able to convert two fourth downs with backup Jacoby Brissett spelling Rivers as a read-option QB.

"When you have a lead, it's the National Football League, you can't let your foot off the gas," Kirksey said. "You don't get too high, you don't get too low. We knew that they were a good team. They're gonna keep fighting and keep fighting to try to will their way back to getting into the game.

"But we're not gonna sulk in sorrow. We're not gonna walk around with our heads down. We still have our goals in front of us."

Lucas Oil Stadium hosted a Week 11 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020.

Lazard, CBs return: Receiver Allen Lazard made his long-awaited return to the Packers' lineup following a two-month absence due to core-muscle surgery.

Lazard played a complementary role in the passing game against Indianapolis, catching two passes for 18 yards, but brought his patented physicality as a blocker – specifically in the second quarter when he sealed off Kenny Moore during Davante Adams' 6-yard touchdown catch-and-run.

"Obviously, you could feel Allen Lazard's presence when he came back out there," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "Not only in the run game but he made some plays in the passing game as well. Again, another guy that you just feel his physicalness. I thought the receivers really brought that dimension, specifically in the first half."

Starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King also were back in the lineup. Alexander finished with five tackles and two pass deflections, while King had seven tackles.

"It was nice to get Allen back today and Kevin King and Jaire," Rodgers said. "We did have a couple injuries, which hurt us, but it felt like we had all of our guys back."

Scott suits up: JK Scott was back in a Packers uniform on Sunday despite a personal matter that resulted in the third-year punter not traveling with the team Saturday and being listed as questionable.

As an emergency option, Green Bay signed veteran Drew Kaser, who previously spent time on the Packers' roster in November 2018 when Scott and his wife were expecting the birth of their first child. However, Scott made the trip and Kaser was inactive.

Scott, who also had been listed with a back issue on the injury report this past week, averaged 39.0 yards (36.0 net) on his three punts against the Colts. 

"We knew that JK was going to be available, really (Saturday) night," LaFleur said. "Thankful that he showed up for us."

Backup plan: Both the Packers and Colts were without their starting kickoff returners, with Darrius Shepherd replacing an injured Tyler Ervin (ribs) and former Packers cornerback Tremon Smith replacing Isaiah Rodgers.

Rodgers, the NFL's third leading returner, was added to the injury report on Friday with a knee injury.

Second O-line shift: The Packers lost starting center Corey Linsley to a back injury in the first half, causing starting left guard Elgton Jenkins to see his first meaningful NFL snaps at center. Rookie Jon Runyan replaced Jenkins at left guard.

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