By Michael Marot, AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Graham Harrell's big finish ruined Curtis Painter's timely flourish.
Harrell led Green Bay to 11 points in the final 35 seconds, rallying the defending Super Bowl champion Packers to a 24-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Friday night.
Harrell hooked up with rookie tight end Ryan Taylor for an 11-yard TD pass with 35 seconds left, then connected with Taylor again on the 2-point conversion play to tie it at 21. After Green Bay recovered an onside kick, Harrell quickly moved the Packers into position for Mason Crosby's 50-yard field goal as time expired.
While Green Bay (2-1) won the game, Painter made the biggest impression.
Just two days after the Colts' signed Kerry Collins, presumably to replace Painter as Peyton Manning's primary backup, the backup had his best game of the preseason. He finished 11 of 21 for 171 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and had the Colts (0-3) in position for their first preseason victory in nine tries since Aug. 20, 2009.
No, Painter wasn't perfect. He needed almost 18 minutes to find his groove, was sacked twice and lost a fumble.
But it was a drastic improvement over last week when he managed only one first down and couldn't get the Colts past their own 29 in two quarters.
That prompted the Colts to sign Collins. Five-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne vociferously defended Painter after the signing and backed up his words by catching six passes for 105 yards, including a 57-yard TD reception that gave Painter a needed confidence boost.
It was impressive enough to even get Manning to smile.
But the Packers' starters looked every bit as good.
Aaron Rodgers was 19 of 23 for 204 yards and one touchdown.
He took the Packers 81 yards on their second series, throwing an 18-yard TD pass to Jermichael Finley, over the arms of linebacker Pat Angerer. Green Bay went 61 yards on its next series, settling for Crosby's 26-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Then Painter struck back.
He read Green Bay's blown coverage perfectly down the left side of the field, then threw the strike to Wayne, who jogged the final 30 yards for the score.
On the next series, Painter ran the 2-minute drill perfectly, threading a nifty 36-yard pass to Pierre Garcon down the right side. Painter followed that play with a gentle 7-yard lob to the back corner that Chris Brooks hauled to give Indy a 14-10 halftime lead.
Indy thought it had finally broken the losing streak after Dan Orlovsky's 3-yard TD pass to David Gilreath made it 21-13 with 3:52 left, but Harrell rallied Green Bay with the late scoring flurry.
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