Report Card: Packers vs. Chiefs

There were very few bright spots for the Green Bay Packers — and certainly no high marks — in the wake of Sunday's 19-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The harshest criticism is leveled at the coaching staff.

PASSING OFFENSE: D — The Packers' previously potent offense may have missed top wideout Greg Jennings (knee sprain) more than players were letting on in the wake of the stunning first loss of the season. The pass catchers who had a golden opportunity to pick up the slack literally dropped the ball, punctuated by five drops in a scoreless first half. That contributed to Aaron Rodgers' worst passing performance of his sensational season. Rodgers completed just 17-of-35 passes for 235 yards and only one touchdown — his first game without multiple touchdown throws this season — for a lackluster passer rating of 80.5. Tight end Jermichael Finley, the primary culprit of the drops, was targeted a game-high 10 times by Rodgers but had only three catches. Finley partly atoned for his early foibles by making a nice adjustment down the field to haul in a floater from Rodgers for 41 yards, the team's longest pass play of the game. Jordy Nelson, who arguably is the team's best receiver, had a forgettable homecoming in front of family and friends from his native Kansas with just two catches for 29 yards. He also was flagged twice (one accepted) in the early going for pass interference and later for illegal procedure. The battered offensive line, which lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga to a knee injury shortly after halftime and rookie replacement Derek Sherrod to a broken leg early in the fourth quarter, endangered Rodgers by allowing four sacks and a half-dozen hits. Chiefs standout linebacker Tamba Hali dominated left tackle Marshall Newhouse, coming up with three sacks and forcing a fumble by Rodgers that Green Bay recovered.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The Packers finished with 102 yards on just 18 rushing attempts, good for a productive average of 5.7 yards. Rodgers, though, accounted for nearly a third of the output by scrambling three times for 32 yards (long of 19), including an escape from pressure for an 8-yard touchdown in the closing minutes of the game. Ryan Grant, the only halfback able to play for the team because of injuries to James Starks and Brandon Saine, averaged 5.5 yards, gaining 66 yards on 12 carries. Grant took a while to get on track, however, before he busted up the middle for 18 yards out of a shotgun draw with the Packers backed up deep in their own territory to start a series in the final minute of the first half. Grant started the second half with a gain of 13 yards, but those two runs were the long and short of his explosive contributions. Hybrid fullback John Kuhn was stopped for no gain on both of his carries, including a third-and-1 inside handoff when linebacker Derrick Johnson knifed through the middle of the line unblocked to foil the first series of the second half. Rookie receiver Randall Cobb replaced Rodgers at quarterback for one play to run the Wildcat and managed 4 yards on a keeper between the tackles.

PASS DEFENSE: D-minus — The up-and-down defense that thrives so much on forcing turnovers, particularly interceptions (league-high 27), didn't have one for the first time this season. The Packers' negligible pass rush didn't have a sack for the first time. Those factors enabled journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton, who had a mistake-filled game when he was with the Broncos in the Packers' rout in early October, to gain sweet revenge with a workman-like effort of 23-of-31 passing for 299 yards with zero miscues. He had a 104.1 passer rating even without the benefit of a touchdown throw. Orton and the Chiefs gave future opponents of Green Bay something to chew on by repeatedly exploiting the Packers on play-action. Orton completed 11-of-13 play-action passes for nearly 200 yards, highlighted by downfield strikes of 39 and 33 yards to wide-open tight end Leonard Pope as well as a well-designed screen pass to aging running back Thomas Jones that baited linebacker Clay Matthews on the blitz and resulted in a 27-yard pickup.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus — No Chief ran for more than Jones' 48 yards on 15 carries, but Kansas City's diversified play-calling with end-arounds and reverses gave Green Bay occasional fits. The Chiefs amassed 139 yards on the ground, including 32 in a huge four-play sequence in the final 2:04 when the Packers failed to get a stop. Jones converted a second-and-4 with a 7-yard run around left end right after the two-minute warning. Two plays later, Jackie Battle had no one in his way on a toss play wide left for a 15-yard gain to seal the victory. Right outside linebacker Frank Zombo, summoned late in the game to replace Erik Walden, was sucked inside on the Jones run and then couldn't shed his block to at least provide some interference for Battle on his breakaway. Battle had the decisive short touchdown run earlier in the fourth quarter. Battle's late-game heroics came after nose tackle B.J. Raji crashed 3 yards into the backfield off the snap and forced Battle to turn what was designed as a sweep around left end back inside for no gain on fourth-and-inches from the Packers' 3-yard line late in the first half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — Punter Tim Masthay, who's been on a tear the last two months, was the lone bright spot in an otherwise shoddy performance by the Packers on special teams. Masthay had a career-long boot of 71 yards and also had booming kicks of 61 and 54 yards as he averaged 53.4 gross yards and 46.2 net yards with three of his five punts placed inside the 20. Masthay also drew a roughing-the-punter penalty in Green Bay's first possession. Later in that series, Mason Crosby missed wide right on consecutive field-goal tries of 59 and 54 yards after another Chiefs penalty gave him a second shot following the first miss. Crosby's onside kick before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter didn't wind up in the Packers' hands. Cobb was unproductive on kickoff returns (22.7 average) and punt returns (0 yards).

COACHING: F — The league's last remaining unbeaten team not only played flat and deserved to take its first loss, but coach Mike McCarthy exacerbated matters with some head-scratching and costly decisions throughout the game. Going for the onside kick instead of having the strong-legged Crosby drill the kickoff into the end zone with essentially four timeouts in hand (including the stoppage for the two-minute warning) is up for debate. More egregious on McCarthy's part was not challenging what on TV replay clearly appeared to be a fumble into and out of the end zone on Pope's 33-yard catch-and-run to the Green Bay 3, which led to an important field goal for the Chiefs as they nursed their late lead. McCarthy may have been demonstrating the brash attitude of the Packers going into the game by having Crosby attempt the original 59-yard field goal early in the game in the face of tricky winds, then keeping the offense on the field for a fourth-and-8 play inside the Kansas City 40, to no avail, seconds into the fourth quarter with the Chiefs ahead only 9-7. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers curiously backed off from applying even a modest amount of pressure on Orton, and that tactic backfired with conspicuous zeros in the sacks and takeaways categories on top of the big passing numbers for Kansas City. Furthermore, no apparent in-game adjustments were made against the Chiefs' liberal and successful use of play-action.

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