NFL: 5 takeaways from the Colts' Week 11 win over the Packers
In one of the most exciting finishes of Week 11, the Indianapolis Colts maintained the top spot in AFC South by defeating the Green Bay Packers in overtime, 34-31.
Both teams are now 7-3 on the year, and still in a good position to qualify for the playoffs in their respective conferences. Here’s what we learned from the game that came right down to the wire.
5. Rodrigo Blankenship Is Automatic Under 50 Yards
Blankenship is probably best known for his unique spectacled appearance, but even if he decided to get Lasik or wear contacts from now on, his game would still do plenty of talking for him.
Coming into Sunday’s game with the Packers, Blankenship had only missed two field goal tries (not including PAT tries), with his last miss coming in Week 3 against the Jets.
It’ll be interesting to see if Indianapolis will have faith to trot out their rookie kicker for an attempt over 50 yards in a close game. His long this year is 44 yards, which tells us that he’s extremely accurate from relatively short distances. We’ll see if Colts head coach Frank Reich extends that leash a little longer as we head into December and January.
4. Injured Davante Adams Is Still Davante Adams
Coming into the game, Packers superstar WR Davante Adams was nursing an injured ankle, but was able to return to practice late in the week and make his presence felt against the Colts on Sunday.
Against a top defensive unit like the Colts, Adams’ game-breaking ability was absolutely vital to the Packers' moving the ball on Sunday. He led the team in receiving with seven catches for 106 yards and one touchdown, and is making a habit of reaching pay dirt while Green Bay is in the red zone.
If Adams’ ankle injury is one that persists for the rest of the season, it will be interesting to see if the Packers will play their standout playmaker as long as they remain in the mix for the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
3. Jonathan Taylor Has Regained Bell-Cow Status
The touches between the triumvirate of Colts running backs the past few weeks has been fairly evenly divided between Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines. In the Colts’ last game against the Tennessee Titans, Hines ended up scoring two touchdowns and appeared to be the featured player.
Against Green Bay, the script was completely flipped, as Indianapolis fed the rock to Taylor early and often, in a disproportionate amount to the other two backs. Taylor handled 26 total touches (rushing and receiving), while Hines had 9, and Wilkins had 5. The rookie from Wisconsin was acceptably effective, averaging over 4 yards a carry on his 22 rushing attempts.
2. Robert Tonyan might be Aaron Rodgers' Favorite TE since JaMichael Finley
To be fair, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers did utilize Richard Rodgers and Jimmy Graham a fair amount in the years since JaMichael Finley departed Green Bay, but Robert Tonyan already has 6 touchdown catches this season, giving him a legitimate chance to reach double digits by season’s end.
Aaron Rodgers had high hopes for Tonyan coming into the season, having seen his development with the Packers firsthand throughout the past three seasons.
“He’s really become a good point of attack blocker,” Rodgers said. “And you pair that with a really advanced ability to run routes, I think he deserves an opportunity to get some reps and get the ball in space. I think he’s good after the catch. I think his ability to run routes, and set things up, is going to be a part of our offense that we need to tap into.” Via Packerswire
Tonyan’s emergence over the past few seasons might be another reason why the Packers decided not to bolster their receiving corps in the offseason, or make a trade for a veteran pass-catcher before the trade deadline this year.
1. Are The Packers Legitimate Contenders in the NFC?
This matchup with Indianapolis was one of those pre-playoff tests for a Green Bay team that has hopes of playing their final game in Tampa Bay this season as part of Super Bowl LV.
They passed the exam in some ways, but failed in other aspects.
In big games, it’s always preferable to be playing from ahead while getting off to a good start, and the Packers checked that box off in impressive fashion in the first half. They were up two touchdowns heading into halftime, and figured to be able to use a heavy dose of RB Aaron Jones in the running game to control the tempo of the game in the 3rd and 4th quarter.
As it turned out, the Packers only ended up scoring 3 points in the second half, and did not appear to have any answers to stem the oncoming Colts' tide.
While Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s fumble in overtime ended up being the final dagger, the Packers were still in position to take the lead or win that game despite losing three fumbles against the Colts.
That bodes well for their chances against upper echelon competition, but will need to protect the football and improve on their even turnover differential against opponents so far this season.