Give the Chiefs this – down by 24 points early in the fourth quarter, coach Andy Reid’s team did not pack up their bags and play out the string in Monday night’s encounter with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
But a strong comeback to close out the game still left them well short of a victory, as the Chiefs fell 38-28 to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The Green Bay quarterback threw five touchdown passes and picked apart the K.C. defense, throwing for 333 yards and completing 68.6 percent of his passes. Rodgers became the first opposing quarterback in 23 games to surpass 300 passing yards against the Chiefs defense.
Now 1-2 on the season, the Chiefs are on the road again next weekend against the 3-0 Bengals in Cincinnati. They will have to play much better in all three phases of the game if they expect to finish the first quarter of the 2015 season with a .500 record.
“It’s my responsibility, the whole thing here, offensively and defensively; it’s my fault,” Reid told reporters after the game, in what may have been the shortest postgame press conference of his tenure in Kansas City, just 2 minutes, 13 seconds of the head coaching taking the blame for the performance of his players.
“We have to do a better job and that starts with me,” Reid said. “We had plenty of time to get ourselves ready, so that’s my responsibility to make sure we get there. We have a short week here and we are on to Cincinnati.”
Quarterback Alex Smith told reporters after the game that it may be a short week, but the Chiefs have to spend time solving their problems one player at a time.
“I think the bottom line is after a game like that tonight, we all have to look in the mirror and find a way to right this,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of football left and certainly it’s a big one this weekend.”
Running back Jamaal Charles scored twice against the Packers defense that kept him bottled up for most of the game as a runner and receiver. He felt the Chiefs were not energized enough in the first part of the game.
“Going out for the first quarter, we didn’t have enough energy,” Charles told reporters after the game. “Then we picked it up in the second half. There were a lot of people trying to motivate. Next week we have to come out and be very energized and ready to play.”
For the second straight game, the Chiefs sunk their chances of victory due to a host of mistakes that were also detrimental in their loss 12 days ago to Denver.
There was an interception thrown by Smith, who now has three on the season; Smith threw six interceptions in 15 games last season. There were seven penalties walked off against K.C., including several that Rodgers took advantage for free shots down the field including one of his touchdown passes.
They allowed seven sacks of Smith, as they had a tough time handling not only linebacker Clay Matthews (2 sacks), but defensive tackle Mike Daniels (1.5). They converted just two of 10 third down plays and on the season are now just five of 30 conversions. Over the game’s first 37 minutes, they had little in the way of offensive yards, sitting at 88 yards on 28 plays. They finished with 326 yards.
It was another sterling performance from Rodgers. He did not throw an interception, something he seldom does at Lambeau, where he’s now thrown 580 passes without giving one away.
The Chiefs did exactly what a visiting team cannot do at Lambeau: they fell behind early.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes in the game’s first 13 minutes and in the first quarter the Chiefs were able to produce just four offensive yards on their first nine plays. The teams traded three plays and out possessions to start the game, before the Packers offense started tormenting the K.C. defense, going on a six-play, 69-yard drive keyed by consecutive positive plays for 12 yards (Randall Cobb, end-around run), 11 yards (James Starks run), 12 yards (Rodgers to James Jones pass play) and 26 yards (Rodgers to Eddie Lacy pass play.)
Green Bay’s first touchdown came on an 8-yard pass from Rodgers to rookie wide receiver Ty Montgomery. Mason Crosby’s PAT kick gave the Packers the early 7-0 lead that they never gave up the rest of the evening.
After the Chiefs gained good field position thanks to a 54-yard kick return by running back Knile Davis, the offense lost three yards on three plays and Green Bay took over after a punt at their 11-yard line. Rodgers pushed his offense down the field on 10 plays, with help from the Chiefs defense that was called for three penalties in the drive and lost cornerback Phillip Gaines for the rest of the game with a left knee injury.
Rodgers second touchdown throw came on a 3-yard scoring toss to Cobb and with the PAT kick, the Packers led 14-0. By the time the first quarter was over, the Chiefs had nine offensive plays and four yards in offense. Smith was completed one of his four pass attempts for 1-yard and he was sacked once.
But in their first possession of the second quarter, something kicked in for the Chiefs offense, as Smith moved them 61 yards for a touchdown, helped by a pair of penalties against the Green Bay defense. The big play on the drive was a 38-yard pass play to tight end Travis Kelce. Running back Jamaal Charles picked up the touchdown on a 9-yard run and the PAT kick from Cairo Santos cut the Packers lead in half, 14-7.
Green Bay closed out the half with a 44-yard field goal from Mason Crosby and then Rodgers picked up another touchdown throw, finding wide receiver James Jones for a 27-yard score on a free play. A hard snap count drew outside linebacker Tamba Hali offside and Rodgers threw the ball to the end zone where cornerback Marcus Cooper fell down and Jones was wide open for the catch.
At halftime, the Packers led 24-7 thanks to a 304-94 edge in offensive yards. Rodgers had the three touchdown throws, while Smith wasn’t able to complete three passes, going two for seven.
Rodgers added his fourth touchdown throw in the third quarter on a 4-yard toss to Cobb. The possession was set up by an interception by Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields, who grabbed an errant throw by Smith. The fifth TD pass was also to Cobb, a 4-yard scoring play.
The Chiefs scored late in the third quarter, on the 5-yard touchdown throw from Smith to Jeremy Maclin, the first touchdown caught by a K.C. wide receiver since the game against Indianapolis in the 2013 playoffs. In the fourth quarter, Charles scored on a 4-yard run and Smith and tight end Travis Kelce connected on a 2-point play.
Down 16 points, the Chiefs got the ball back and scored again, on a 17-play, 83-yard drive in the two-minute offense with Charles scoring on a 7-yard run. But Smith’s pass for two points failed and the 10-point difference in the game was set.
Besides getting that first wide receiver touchdown catch in 19 games, Maclin caught eight passes for 141 yards. Kelce had six catches for 80 yards. Smith ended up throwing for 290 yards and survived the seven sacks by the Packers defense.
Cobb had the three touchdown catches and seven receptions for 91 yards. Veteran receiver James Jones caught seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.