Packers vs Chiefs: Insult and Injuries
Packers (13-0) vs Chiefs (5-8)
Date: December 18th
Outcome: 19-14 Chiefs
Three weeks ago after the win against the Giants, I half-joked about betting $10 on the Chiefs to win, just in case. Now I’m sorry I didn’t. A pile of cash would’ve bought a lot of whiskey in which to drown my sorrows.
By all accounts, the Chiefs are a pretty inconsistent team with a pattern prior to this week of lose 3-win 4-lose 4-win-lose. This week they had an effective strategy that targeted the Packers’ weaknesses. As I’ve said before, the only way to get around the Packers is to change things up and do something that they have never seen before so they can’t anticipate your next move. With an interim coach in his first week and a rookie quarterback starting his first game, I would say the Chiefs had a jump on the element of surprise, whether they meant to or not. Their offense was able to gain yards both through rushing and passing to multiple receivers, and their defense was able to penetrate the Packer offensive line just enough to knock Rodgers of his game. I’m not saying this is a team that can win all the time (obviously), but their game plan certainly hit the Packers in all their soft spots.
As dynamic as the Chiefs were in their offense, they still could not overcome the Packers defense in the red zone, who kept the Chiefs’ scores to a series of field goals and allowed only one touchdown in the middle of the 4th quarter. And thank God–if they had been any less vigilant in the red zone, I probably would’ve gouged my eyes out before halftime.
Where the defense really struggled was on receiver coverage, something that has consistently been an issue this season. Normally, they compensate for this with an impressive number of interceptions, but in this game there was nary a one to be seen. Since Kansas City was not afraid to rush and run out the clock to avoid giving the Packers offense a chance to play, we desperately needed the defense to step up and rip that ball away from them. Even one interception might have made all the difference in the end.
There’s only one word I need to describe the Packer’s offense this week: INCOMPLETE.
First: With a half a dozen plus people out injured, our offense has been whittled down to almost nothing. The lack of protection from his tackles and guards gives Rodgers less time to make passing decisions. Furthermore, with both Starks and Saine out injured, Grant was the only really choice for rushing yards. The problem is that Rodgers’ handoffs are really obvious–I mean, neon sign obvious. Therefore, Grant rarely made it more than a few feet before he was stopped. In order to score, Rodgers had to be able to pass in a hurry and trust his receivers to make the catch.
Second: Rodgers was not able to trust his receivers. Apparently Finley’s bad acts over the past few weeks were just the beginning because there were more incomplete passes in this game than there were in the rest of the season all together (I think).
Maybe I’m not giving the Chiefs’ defense enough credit, but I think that by the beginning of the fourth quarter, Rodgers was so panicked that they could’ve stood still and waved their arms and it wouldn’t have made any difference.
The drive to the second and final touchdown (which Rodgers ran into the endzone himself) looked more like the glorious Packers we all know and love, but by then it was too little, too late.
Mostly notable, Derek Sherrod sustained a big hit to the leg in the final minutes of the game and was carted off the field in a stretcher. Most recent news is that his leg is broken and he will not return to the field this season.
Also, Bryan Bulaga left the game with a sprained knee in the first half. Funny, but that did not register at the time. I guess I was too preoccupied with shame to notice. As of yet, there is no news on the severity of the injury or when we can expect him back in the lineup.
NEXT WEEK: The Bears back in Lambeau. Maybe with homefield advantage for the last two games we can gain back some of the respect that was no doubt lost in this game.
In a way, this loss is a relief. Now we can actually play some football games instead of worrying about our season record. However, I am afraid that this is not just a loss, but the beginning of a downward trend. We’ve lost a lot of our most essential offensive players, and I’m wondering: how many parts can you take away from the whole before it collapses like so many Jenga bricks? And, with the Packers sustaining an average of almost one offense player injured per game…and with a lot of the big guys already gone…how long before Rodgers is the one taking a hit he can’t walk away from?
I’m hopeful the loss will shake the Packers up and remind them what it feels like to seek a comeback, but I’m also worried that fire in the belly isn’t enough to compensate for lack of firepower on the field.