Packers vs. Chiefs: Quick Observations from 20-19 Win in Preseason Finale
The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 20-19 Thursday night after Kansas City’s 56-yard field goal attempt with no time remaining was wide left.
Here are some quick observations from the Packers’ preseason finale:
Twos outplay ones:
The Packers can take a lot of positive things away from their preseason finale. They got an incredible amount of positive film on the young guys who needed more evaluation time. The backups played nearly the entire game at most positions. The Chiefs even helped the Packers out by playing their starters well into the second half, which gave Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy the rare opportunity to see how their backups stacked up against the Chiefs starters. For the most part, the Packers twos and threes didin’t look overmatched. In fact, the defense did a number on Kansas City’s offense for a majority of the contest. Overall, to win a preseason game that should have been so undeniably onesided is certainly something to be proud for players and coaches throughout the Packers organization.
Vic So’oto had the game of his life Thursday when he needed it the most. Many had already pegged him as a player who had a chance to crack the Packers 53-man roster, but his play against the Chiefs all but sealed it. So’oto had 1.5 sacks, another tackle for a loss, a strip of Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the lead back to the Packers. If that’s not enough to make this team, I don’t know what is. It was an all-around impressive performance from the undrafted rookie out of BYU.
While So’oto had a night to remember, backup center Nick McDonald had one to forget. His botched snap inside the 10-yard line gave the Chiefs a safety, but he was also flagged for a false start and got beat up in the running game on several occasions. McDonald hasn’t progressed like the team thought he would after a rookie campaign in which he impressed several of the Packers coaches. Despite his versatility to play both center and guard, McDonald played himself onto the roster bubble Thursday night.
Pat Lee, last game in GB?
People will clamor about the fumble recoveries from Lee, but he was abused by Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe for the majority of the night. He clearly proved he can’t cover a No. 1 NFL receiver. Now, there should be very little chance that Lee is faced with that matchup down the road. But why keep a 27-year-old cornerback who has shown very little improvement since being drafted in the second round in 2008? He seems like a lost cause. His value is only on special teams and that might not even save him. As hard as it may be for some to admit, it might be time to turn the page on Lee.
Grant’s flashes burst
Ryan Grant’s 23-yard run on the Packers opening offensive series was an encouraging sign. He hadn’t shown that kind of burst and anticipation since coming back from ankle surgery, and James Starks had looked like a much better back through three weeks of the preseason. The Packers will likely need both this season, so any sign of life from Grant was welcomed. Hopefully he can build on that moving forward as the Packers prepare for the Saints next Thursday.
Rodgers continues to look sharp
It should surprise no one, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to look like the kind of player who could have a really special season in 2011. He calmly led the Packers down the field on his only series, capping it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Crabtree. In four preseason games, Rodgers was sharp. He completed 37-of-47 passes (78.7 percent) for 395 yards and four touchdowns, which equals out to a 130.1 passer rating. There’s no worries on his end leading into the regular season. Rodgers will be one of the NFL MVP favorites.
Other notes and observations:
Howard Green’s sack of Matt Cassel must have been a scary moment for Chiefs fans. No one wants to see their franchise quarterback get landed on by a 360-pound man in the preseason. You could tell right away that his shoulder took the brunt of Green’s weight. But give credit to Green, who fought through a double team and just eat Cassel up…WR Tori Gurley made a few nice catches Thursday night that won’t hurt his chances of sticking with the Packers. His finger-tip, sideline grab was nullified by a Chiefs challenge, but it was a good showing overall for the undrafted free agent…Graham Harrell didn’t play well, but the entire Packers offense was horrifically stagnant most of the night. I’m sure that’s not how he wanted to finish the 2011 preseason. Did Harrell show the front office enough this preseason to keep him on the 53?…Matt Flynn also had a shaky night. 2-of-12 passing for 12 yards and an interception. That could be the last tape teams see of Flynn before he hits free agency next summer…Andrew Quarless’s kick-out block on Grant’s 23-yard run was the key matchup win on that play…RB Dimitri Nance has had a nice camp. He deserves another shot in the NFL, but it’d be hard for the Packers to keep him. He’s very reliable in pass protection, however…Shaky Smithson fumbled away his last chance at making the team in third quarter on a Chiefs punt…It was disappointing that the offense had such a slow night. None of the receivers or tight ends really had a chance to put anything on display. Most figured we’d get a really good look at the bubble guys tonight but that simply wasn’t the case…The Packers held the ball for just over 20 minutes, running 42 offensive plays compared to the Chiefs’ 86.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2