19

December

Packers vs. Chiefs: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 19-14 Loss to Kansas City

Photo: MCT

The Green Bay Packers (13-1) lost for the first time in 364 days—a stretch of 20 games—as the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off the upset of the season Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, 19-14.

Five observations from the Packers’ first taste of defeat since Week 15 of last season:

1. Playing perfect to end perfection

I said before the game that Kyle Orton would have to play a perfect game for the Chiefs to have a chance. He was about as close to perfect as you could ask for on Sunday, completing 23-of-31 passes for 299 yards. The key stat, however? Zero turnovers. Orton made all the easy throws and avoided that one game-changing giveaway.

The Chiefs offense did a fine job of hurting the Packers in the screen game early then picked apart the Packers’ zone after Dom Capers was forced to adjust. But even with the Chiefs’ offense rolling, there was anticipation for a turnover from the defense that could turn around the game. It never came. With the Packers offense struggling for the first time all season, not getting that one momentum-shifter was huge.

2. Dropping the rhythm

The issues on offense went deeper than just drops, but it was painfully obvious how those missed opportunities in the first half stymied the rhythm of the Packers’ offense. Jermichael Finley saw a couple of easy ones go right through the hands, but he also had a handful of opportunities to make game-changing catches, which admittedly were tough plays, and couldn’t convert. Aaron Rodgers called the drops a “physical mistake” after the game, but it’s mental for Finley. He’s clearly pressing, and dropping the first ball that came to him Sunday only snowballed the mistakes.

He wasn’t alone, as Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson also dropped balls which they normally catch. If those plays are made, the Packers likely score enough points to win. Greg Jennings wasn’t the one dropping those passes, either. His impact was felt in the offense, but not having him on the field had absolutely nothing with the inexcusable drops.

3. Man down

The Packers’ already aching offensive line saw both Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod suffer injuries. Bulaga left in the first half but seemed fine on the sidelines after returning from the locker room. McCarthy labeled his injury as a “knee sprain,” which again, can mean a number of things. Bulaga will have a MRI later today. Sherrod suffered a major injury, which McCarthy confirmed as a broken leg, and won’t be playing football anytime soon.

The Packers were then forced to shift left guard T.J. Lang to right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith to Lang’s spot. On the very first pass play following the change, Dietrich-Smith was beaten badly for a sack on third down. With Chad Clifton’s status for 2011 still in the air, getting back Bulaga is of utmost importance. I don’t think the Packers can win the Super Bowl with Bulaga and Clifton missing the rest of the season.

4. No fluke 

This was no fluke win for the Chiefs. Green Bay was outplayed on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes. While the Packers briefly led in the third quarter, the Chiefs had complete control. It was a flat performance across the board. Rodgers wasn’t razor sharp, the receivers lacked focus, the offensive line was beaten several times in pass protection and the defense couldn’t get off the field until the Chiefs were in the red zone. The Chiefs held the football for over 37 minutes, too. If Kansas City was just more efficient inside the Packers’ 20-yard-line, this could have been a blowout.

5. What’s next?

Was this a “good” loss? Maybe. No loss is ever encouraged, but it’s better to work through a game like Sunday in Week 15 rather than the playoffs. Rebounding in the final couple of weeks would be nice, but will the Packers push the envelope if they have home-field advantage locked up? The injuries along the offensive line are especially concerning, and the 49ers have two chances to lose a game before the Packers play the Chicago Bears on Christmas night. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if McCarthy plays it safe now that history is out the window.

Other observations

There will be questions about several decisions from McCarthy. A third-and-one run with John Kuhn lacked imagination, no challenge was asked for after Leonard Pope appeared to fumble a long pass play out of the back of the end zone and some wondered why the Packers went for an onside kick with three timeouts remaining…Rodgers broke Brett Favre’s record for touchdown passes in a season when he connected with Driver in the third quarter for his 40th score…Mason Crosby missed a 59-yard field goal in the first half, then missed again after the Chiefs were called for 12 men on the field. That was the closest the Packers came to scoring during the first 30 minutes.

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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.

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6 Responses to “Packers vs. Chiefs: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 19-14 Loss to Kansas City”

  1. Ron LC says:

    The unfortunate truth is this is the same crappy D they’ve had all year with one exception, turnovers. KC did nothing dramatic on their offense. They just man-to-man beat the crap out of their opposing player. Yet another 400+ yard performance by Capers’ boys is nothing new.

    The real problem is the Oline. If the Oline next week starts Newhouse and EDS on the same side of the ball, I wouldn’t want to be the insurance carrier that has AR’s policy. Niether Newhouse or EDS can play their position without help, a lot of help. Think Peppers and Briggs.

    At this time of the year there is not much help available to shore up the line. That said, they should still look far and wide for something even slightly better than Newhouse and EDS. Tauscher is probably sitting next to his phone.

    Another possibility is for Campen to coach EDS and Newhouse up to slightly below average before Sunday night. That’s wishful thinking, I admit.

    So, we’re left with hoping/praying that Bulaga is not seriously injured and he will return next week. And then most important, MM adjusts the offense to give Newhouse as much help as possible, especially for speed rushers that beat him time after time on inside rushes. 8 sacks and no one can count the of rushes and hits AR has received in the last two weeks. This has to stop. NOW!

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    • BTF says:

      Newhouse is average at present. EDS maybe slighlty below. Trouble is the way we play require our OL especially the tackles to be good or very good.

      I don’t see anything better out there so I think you are right in that we need to adjust our offense slightly to give Newhouse as much help as possible. It’s not something McCarthy or Rodgers seem keen on though..

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  2. Jeff Lawver says:

    Finley needs to concentrate on catching footballs and keeping his mouth shut.Year of the takeover my asthma.Defense pedestrian in spite of having most of players back.Offensive line not even that good. Now the injuries.Rogers MVP. Without him another Colts?

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  3. ELo says:

    As stated, our O-Line is perhaps the biggest problem. That said, if we catch the ball yesterday, we probably would have won this game. I also think with more check-down passing, the O-line becomes less of an issue. I’m more concerned about our lack of push on the D-Line. With the amount of time Orton had, any QB in the league (yes, even Caleb Haney) can put up 300 yards. While scoring 40+ points/game and getting 2-3 picks got us to 13-0, I think every Packer fan saw their fears materialize yesterday. No picks, no D-Line pressure, dropped balls, and a lack of game-time adjustments by MM (I thought we were past that) were more of the culprits to me. So if we catch the damn ball, use check downs to TEs and backs, figure out how to get pressure on the QB, we should be just fine. Oh yeah – and Grant looked pretty good yesterday too.

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  4. Savage57 says:

    Like I’ve said all season, nothing is as good as it seems, and now, following a bad loss, nothing is as bad as it seems. I trust that these guys are going to be challenged by CWood and AR this week. What remains to be seen is whatever it was they called on last year after the NE loss, is it still in the cupboard?

    Now with that out of the way – how’s ’bout you big uglies go out and just knock the bejeezus out of the Bears? That would cure a whole bunch of these problems.

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