Green Bay had an 18-point halftime lead and seemed to be in control Sunday.
Then, suddenly, Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne and the rest of the emotionally charged Colts turned things around on one of the league’s marquee franchises.
Playing for an ailing coach Chuck Pagano, Luck rallied the Colts in the second half, throwing for a career-high 362 yards and a 4-yard TD pass to Wayne with 35 seconds to go, giving Indy a stunning 30-27 victory.
“Obviously, a tough week for them. They played with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, I’m more focused on my football team and my football team is not playing the way we are capable of playing.”
Clearly, these are not the same Packers that spent most of last season chasing a perfect record and a second consecutive Super Bowl.
Green Bay (2-3) faces an uphill climb in the NFC North.
They’re still struggling to find an offensive rhythm, though it looked as if they might break out of their funk in the first half when Rodgers was 11 of 17 for 122 yards with two touchdown passes to take a 21-3 lead.
But nothing worked in the second half.
Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 51-yarder to the right with 3 seconds left in the game — a kick that could have forced overtime.
The Packers’ defense failed to stop Indy on three third-down conversions during their final drive.
And the only score the Packers mustered over the final 30 minutes came on an 8-yard TD toss from Rodgers to James Jones with 4:30 left in the game, which gave them a 27-22 lead.
Wayne finished with 13 receptions for a career-high 212 yards – the second-highest total in Colts history.
And Wayne wore the orange gloves, instead of the traditional pink ones for breast cancer awareness month, because that’s the color for leukemia patients.
“I just wanted to do something, you know, for Chuck,” Wayne said. “I had some equipment guys make some calls. If they (NFL officials) fine me, they fine me, I really feel like that would be a terrible thing to do, but if so, so be it, I’ll go ahead and take the fine and do it for Chuck.”
The Colts dominated the second half.
Luck threw an 8-yard TD pass to Dwayne Allen and set up Adam Vinatieri for a 50-yard field goal to make it 21-13 midway through the third quarter. He then ran it in from 3 yards with 18 seconds left to go in the quarter to get the Colts within 21-19.
A few minutes later, Vinatieri hit a 28-yard field goal to give Indy its first lead, 22-21.
But Rodgers got Green Bay’s offense back in sync in a hurry.
Alex Green ran 41 yards on the Packers’ first play, and Rodgers threw an 8-yard TD pass to James Jones on the next one to give the Packers a 27-20 lead with 4:30 to go.
All the Packers had to do was stop Luck one more time to clinch it.
Luck and Wayne wouldn’t allow it.
“Chuck’s instilled a lot in us,” Wayne said. “His whole motto since day one, the first meeting has been team team, team, team. Nothing else. So we’ve wanted to do it every week as a team. That’s all we practice, that’s all we preach.”
NOTES: The Packers lost three starters during the game — running back Cedric Benson (ankle), defensive tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) and tight end Jermichael Finley (right shoulder). McCarthy did not have immediate updates after the game. ... Colts defensive end Robert Mathis left with a knee sprain and did not return after trying on a brace. ... Wayne has catches in 100 consecutive games and passed college and pro teammate Edgerrin James for No. 2 on the Colts career list for yards from scrimmage. ... Packers receiver Donald Driver played in his 197th career game Sunday, breaking a tie with Bart Starr for second in team history.