KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Green Bay Packers started fast at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night — to the tune of a 14-0 first-quarter lead — but the Kansas City Chiefs drew up a game plan that tested the Packers throughout and turned the game into their fifth decided by one possession. The Packers trailed at one point 17-14, but came back to win 31-24 and improve to 7-1 on the year.
Running back Aaron Jones led the way with 67 yards rushing on 13 carries and 159 yards on seven catches, two of which went for touchdowns.
Here are five observations:
Getting off script
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had found a consistent, four-quarter rhythm to the offense that saw the Packers average 30.6 points per game the last five weeks. Sunday looked to be more of the same as Green Bay gained 131 yards on their first 17 plays. But after the script changed, they gained 28 yards on the next 15 plays and saw Aaron Rodgers get pressured and the Chiefs come back to take the lead. The Packers offense got back into a rhythm in the second half with a 15-play, 72-yard drive that led to a Mason Crosby field goal that tied the game 17-17. Going off plan helped the Packers go up 24-17 when Rodgers hit Jamaal Williams on a 3-yard touchdown pass that he threw from about his own 18 after pressure.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid realized he shouldn’t put the game totally in backup quarterback Matt Moore’s hands. Moore, who last started a game in 2017, was asked to take a few shots downfield and was largely inaccurate in those situations. But, Reid used interesting formations, motions and misdirection to allow Moore to quickly dump off the ball on short and intermediate throws and allow his playmakers to run after the catch. It was a very sound strategy, as it kept the Packers’ ball-hawking secondary away from floaters and tested the Packers’ shaky tackling.
The Packers entered the game having given up the most total plays of 40 yards or more heading into Sunday night, and a lot of times those were on busted coverages or excellent throws by opposing quarterbacks. On Sunday night, the Chiefs ripped off six plays of 18 yards or more, including touchdowns of 29 and 30 yards. They were “big plays” but largely because Packers defenders had trouble squaring up in space to bring down a variety of Chiefs playmakers. The Packers managed to cause one turnover, which was an important added possession, but they struggled bringing Chiefs down all night.
Offensive line tested
Rodgers came into the game having been sacked 12 times but just five times over the last five games. Not coincidentally, he completed 65.6% of his passes for with a 106.2 rating while throwing 10 touchdowns. But for the most part, those opponents elected not to test Rodgers and the offensive line with blitzes and often just rushed four. The Chiefs came in with a poor defense and down their two best pass rushers, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo went after the offensive line. Rodgers was sacked 5 times for 49 yards and was consistently pressured and forced to improvise on throws and by running 3 times for 32 yards.
Golden hands of ‘backs
Jones has turned into a reliable pass catcher, so much so that he’s been split out wide often now for a five-receiver set. Jamaal Williams has been steady as well and on Sunday the two running backs used their hands to star. Jones caught six balls for 141 yards and two scores while Williams caught three for 14, including a diving touchdown in the back corner of the end zone.
The 2019 Packers Schedule as of Oct. 28, With Scores Lou Saldivar, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel