The Opposite Sideline: Chiefs eager to atone
Each Thursday morning, Press-Gazette Media will get the lowdown on the Green Bay Packers’ next opponent from a beat writer who covers that team.
By the time the Kansas City Chiefs arrive at Lambeau Field for their showdown against the Green Bay Packers on “Monday Night Football,” they will have had an agonizingly long time to think about the big win that got away.
After taking a 24-17 lead over AFC West rival Denver with 2:27 remaining last Thursday night in front of a frenzied home crowd, the Chiefs somehow managed to lose 31-24 in regulation. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a tying touchdown with 36 seconds left, seemingly setting up overtime. But on the Chiefs’ next play, running back Jamaal Charles fumbled, and the ball was scooped up by Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby and returned for a game-deciding TD. It was the fifth turnover of the game for the stunned Chiefs (1-1).
“We had five turnovers. Everybody had a little piece of that, in all five of them,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters. “We could have all done better, head coach included.”
Eleven days later, the Chiefs will try to do better Monday night. We asked beat writer Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star to answer a few questions about what the Packers can expect from the Chiefs:
1. How are the Chiefs handling that tough loss?
TP: “They’re saying all the right things. I don’t know what else they could say. I think Andy Reid gave it a weekend, just to get away from football a little bit. Got back to it this week, tried to stay focused on the task at hand. We’ll see how they respond, quite frankly, by how they play in this game.”
2. What was the Chiefs’ biggest problem in that game, besides the turnover at the end?
TP: “The turnovers were bad. Any time you turn the ball over five times, you’re going to lose the game. But they still should’ve won. You can argue they still could have won the game if it wasn’t for the last one. That’s a good sign as far as their ability to compete with Denver, they’ve just got to clean it up. But the turnovers are a big deal, you can’t expect to win playing football that way.”
3. What do you expect out of Jamaal Charles coming back from the turnover, and the fact that the Packers’ run defense has struggled at times?
TP: “He’s a pretty competitive guy, he’s a proud guy. I think he’ll come out playing football like he always does, play hard and go 100 percent. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who gets into his head about mistakes like that, I think he’s a pretty mentally tough guy. If anything, he’ll come out to try to prove a point.”
4. Will he give the Packers defense a different kind of challenge than they got from Marshawn Lynch?
TP: “He’s definitely a different runner. Marshawn will power through you; this guy will run around you. Very elusive, very quick, very fast. Elite feet, makes guys miss in the open field with regularity. So he’s a very good back; definitely more speed-based.”
5. How is Alex Smith looking at quarterback?
TP: “Pretty solid. Alex definitely is a guy who’s comfortable on this team now. It’s up to Andy Reid to make sure they dial up the right plays for these guys. The passing game wasn’t great (against the Broncos), but I attribute that to a Denver defense that can really get after you and rush the passer. Without Von Miller coming down the barrel, without DeMarcus Ware coming down the barrel, he’ll be more effective. He looks better now that they’ve got Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce to throw it to.”
6. The Chiefs’ receiving corps does seem better than last season. Who has been getting the most targets so far?
TP: “Mainly Travis Kelce, the tight end. He’s a very good tight end, very quick for his size. He has natural receiving skills and Andy Reid knows how to scheme him open. Jeremy Maclin is outstanding, a really good fit in this scheme. And Jamal Charles catches a lot passes, too. They like to use the swing pass as an extension of the running game.”
7. What does the Chiefs’ defense need to do against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense?
TP: “I don’t know if there is an answer for Aaron Rodgers. He’s the kind of guy you can try to affect with pressure, but he’ll just roll out, throw off his back foot and find a guy downfield. You try to confuse him, you try to get to him, you pray for the best. The Chiefs have a good pass rush – they have interior guys who can rush, too -- and the corners look OK: Phillip Gaines is OK; without Sean Smith (serving a three-game suspension) they’ve actually looked fine. Denver picked on one of them — Jamell Fleming — but the top two, Gaines and Marcus Peters, have been really resilient and actually have looked pretty good. … This is a good defense; the problem is, Rodgers is really good. It almost doesn’t matter what you throw at him, this guy will pick you apart.”
8. How is Chiefs safety Eric Berry doing in his return from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, did that give the team a big boost?
TP: “Yeah, it did. It was a pretty emotional scene. He was the last one introduced on Thursday. He also played 71 of 73 possible defensive snaps, so he’s back to a full-time workload.”
9. How important is this game for the Chiefs, coming off that tough loss?
TP: “You’d just like to come back and get off the schneid after such a difficult loss, move on for the morale. There’s no place more depressing than an NFL locker room after a loss, except maybe an NFL locker room after two. You need to get back on that horse a little bit and a good performance will help them do that.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Stucourt.