Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It's Hard To Lose When Aaron Rodgers Is Playing Like This: Packers Over Chiefs, 38-28

The Chiefs scored on three late touchdown drives and made a comeback seem possible, even if it was never very likely, but the Packers stopped a two-point conversion and recovered the resulting onside kick before running out the clock.

The Chiefs were going to have problems on defense, and losing one of their starting cornerbacks mid-game (when another startering CB was already suspended) made it almost impossible. The Chiefs should have known what was coming, the Packers just kept throwing touchdowns on a variation of the same play to WR Randall Cobb, but apparently they didn't have the personnel to adjust. LB Justin Houston was held in check, and outside of a nice overload blitz in the first half and a couple of bull rushes from LB Tamba Hali, the Chiefs couldn't sack or hit QB Aaron Rodgers, who ended up with 333 yards, 5 TD passes and no turnovers.
They built a huge 31-7 lead but the Chiefs got back into the game for a couple reasons.

The Packers couldn't run the ball late without RB Eddie Lacy. While he did play for most of the game, he appeared to have a slight limp near the end, and the offense went with RB James Starks on their final two drives. The Packers brought in their biggest lineman, G Josh Walker, for some power rushing that went nowhere. They probably would have been better off spreading the Chiefs out and seeing if Starks could make a defender miss in the open field. They punted on 4 of their 6 second half possessions, and they couldn't eat up enough clock.

The defense was a disaster in the red zone. It wasn't a monster game for RB Jamaal Charles, except when he got the ball within 10 yards of the goal line, and then he was automatic for a touchdown run. These red zone problems popped up last season too, and they don't seem to have gotten a lot better in 2015. They probably missed SS Morgan Burnett because the secondary seemed confused a lot of the time. I thought they might go with disappointing SS Sean Richardson, but instead they started rookie CB Damarious Randall and Chris Banjo played safety in their dime packages. Randall did make a couple plays, but then got lost on a couple others, especially when he was spun around and beaten badly by WR Jeremy Maclin on a long catch and run. This was pretty disappointing because the defense was all over QB Alex Smith, who was sacked 7 times, and shut down the Chiefs for first 40 minutes.

There were also 12 penalties on the Packers, which isn't going to make Mike McCarthy very happy. The defense needs to straighten out their confusion in the secondary, and I can't believe I'm writing this, but maybe the return of DE Letroy Guion from suspension will help their run defense. It's never easy on the road, but the Packers travel to San Francisco next week, and 49ers are coming off two road beatings and a 40 point loss. It'll be a good test to see if the Packers can contain a good rushing attack that features a QB who's absolutely torn them up on the ground in the past.

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