Packers fumble away chance to show they're Super Bowl contenders vs. Colts

Marquez Valdes-Scantling giveth and Marquez Valdes-Scantling taketh.

The Green Bay Packers mercurial receiver’s career can be summed up in two plays within a matter of minutes against the Indianapolis Colts.

He hauled in a 47-yard bomb to set up the game-tying field goal with three seconds left in regulation.

And then 13 minutes of real time -- not football time -- later, he fumbled on the second play of overtime, setting the Colts up for a chip-shot field goal to win 34-31.

Twice this year, the Packers have played a team that came in with a winning record.

They’re 0-for-2.

Yes, they beat the Saints -- who currently own the NFC’s best record at 8-2 -- but that was way back in Week 3, when New Orleans was just 1-1.

Now, the Packers are looking up at the Saints after Sunday’s deflating loss at the Colts (7-3). It wasn’t the rout that Green Bay (7-3) suffered at the hands of Tampa Bay -- the other winning team at the time the Packers played them -- but it showed once again that a fast, aggressive defense is their stopper.

Heading into Sunday, the Packers had played the fewest games (one) against a team with a winning record at the time of the game.

Sunday also was the Packers’ chance to show they could handle a top defense -- or in the Colts’ case, the top defense. After Indy stopped gifting Aaron Rodgers field-position scores -- the Packers scored three of their four first-half touchdowns with the help of short fields (thanks to Raven Greene’s forced fumble, Christian Kirksey’s interception and a missed 50-yard Colts field goal attempt).

Twenty-eight points -- and a two-touchdown lead -- at halftime.

Zilch in the second half for 29 minutes and 57 seconds.

The Packers had lost only three games with Rodgers in which they led by at least 14 points. One of those came at Indy in 2012, when they blew an 18-point lead. The others were 16-point blown leads (to the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC title game and to the Bengals in 2013). Sunday was their fourth after they blew their halftime lead. Rodgers finished 27-of-38 for 311 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

They ran only six plays -- two three-and-outs -- in the third quarter. They had only one sustained drive in the second half. They had one drive late in the second half in which they reached the Colts’ 34-yard line and turned it over on downs.

Rodgers is now 2-8-1 in overtime games. He has attempted only 17 passes in overtime in those games. He lost four times without touching the ball and three times on overtime turnovers (two by him) with the winning points coming off the turnover.

Pivotal play: Fourth-and-1 from the Colts’ 34-yard line with 3:11 left in the game. Earlier in the week, Rodgers joked that the reason he rarely gets to run a quarterback sneak is because left tackle David Bakhtiari “started kind of a rumor around the facility that I wasn't a great QB sneaker.” Coach Matt LaFleur had a chance to change that. LaFleur went for it, bypassing a chance at a tying 52-yard field goal, but there was no sneak. Instead, it was a play-action pass that wasn’t open, forcing Rodgers to try a lob to Jamaal Williams, who was well covered and couldn’t even make a catch attempt.

Troubling trend: Turnovers. Six of them in the last two games, including Valdes-Scantling’s fumble. The Packers went the first four games without a single giveaway and played turnover-free in six games in all this season. But three turnovers against the Colts – a botched exchange between Rodgers and center Corey Linsley (who then left with a back injury), Rodgers’ fourth interception of the season and Darrius Shepherd’s fumbled kickoff return in the fourth quarter -- followed a pair of giveaways in the narrow win over the Jaguars last week, when Rodgers was picked off and Davante Adams fumbled. (Adams finished with seven catches for 106 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's loss.) Rodgers has been picked off in consecutive games for just the second time in the last three seasons (the last time was Weeks 16-17 of 2019).

Troubling trend II: Special teams. Last week, it was Jaguars’ 91-yard punt return for a touchdown. This week, it was Shepherd’s fumble combined with several short punts by JK Scott that gave the Colts favorable field position in their second-half comeback.