Aaron Rodgers extended his sharp start to the preseason, throwing for 195 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of the Green Bay Packers' 59-24 rout of the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
It was a costly night for the Colts. Running back Joseph Addai left the game in the third quarter with a concussion and linebacker Gary Brackett hurt his right hand.
Peyton Manning made plenty of big plays against a porous Packers pass defense early on, but Rodgers was up for an offensive exhibition against one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. Trailing 17-7 early in the second quarter, Rodgers rallied the Packers (2-1) to a 28-17 halftime lead.
Adding to the injury problems for Indianapolis (0-3), cornerback Jacob Lacey left the game with a concussion, offensive tackle Tony Ugoh hurt his toe and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson sustained a groin injury.
The Packers lost cornerback Brandon Underwood to a shoulder injury, defensive lineman Jarius Wynn to a concussion and linebacker Desmond Bishop to a hamstring injury.
Manning threw for 214 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He stayed in the game for one series after halftime, only to have things turn ugly.
Manning was hit and stripped of the ball by outside linebacker Frank Zombo, an undrafted free agent making a bid for a roster spot, and it was scooped up by linebacker Robert Francois — who delivered a hard hit Addai when the running back tried to tackle him, leaving him woozy on the sideline.
Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to John Kuhn, putting the Packers up 38-17.
The Packers' offensive and special teams success was tempered by another shaky preseason performance from the first-team defense, although rookie safety Morgan Burnett pounced on a Manning pass for an impressive interception late in the second quarter.
Rodgers then executed a precision two-minute drill just before halftime, driving the Packers 78 yards in 1:29 for a 3-yard touchdown pass to James Jones. Packers tight end Jermichael Finley caught 6 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Rodgers handed the offense over to Flynn after halftime, but the scores kept coming.
Green Bay's defense has struggled in its first three preseason games. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is keeping his scheme fairly vanilla until the games count — although he did dial up pressure at times Thursday — and a few key players are out injured.
Green Bay was without cornerback Al Harris, outside linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and safety Atari Bigby. The Colts played without center Jeff Saturday and tight end Dallas Clark.
The Colts started fast, with a 49-yard run by Addai on their first play from scrimmage and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Pierre Garcon right after that. Green Bay gave up a handful of big passing plays in the first quarter.
Packers running back Ryan Grant got his first extensive preseason action, with mixed results. Grant rushed for 36 yards on eight carries, but lost control of the ball before teammate Scott Wells recovered. Packers backup running back Brandon Jackson lost a fumble.
It was a good night for Tim Masthay in the Packers' unsettled punter competition. Former Australian rules football player Chris Bryan hit a short punt with poor hang time in the first quarter. Then Masthay helped put points on the board, hitting a deep, high-hanging punt that was muffed by rookie returner Brandon James and recovered by the Packers' Korey Hall in the end zone, giving Green Bay a 21-17 lead before Rodgers' two-minute drill.