The Green Bay Packers lost the equivalent of a junior-varsity game, 17-7, in their preseason finale at Kansas City on Thursday night.
Neither team played their key players. For the Packers, who open at Jacksonville on Sept. 11, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and their entire starting offensive line watched from the sideline, as did defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion, outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and defensive backs Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Green Bay (3-1) got interceptions by cornerbacks Josh Hawkins and LaDarius Gunter and a forced fumble by defensive tackle Brian Price. And the special teams had a big night, led by punter Jacob Schum’s debut, a blocked punt by Ty Montgomery and a long punt return by Jared Abbrederis. But the only points the Packers could muster came on Montgomery’s block, which set up the offense at the Chiefs’ 14. Joe Callahan threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook, a pinpoint throw on an out-and-up by Cook. That gave the Packers a 7-0 lead.
But Callahan, the undrafted free agent from Division III Wesley who had been so sharp in making an unexpected run at a roster spot, couldn’t find the magic against the Chiefs. He was 13-of-24 for 143 yards and a touchdown but was sacked four times. Other than the touchdown, perhaps Callahan’s best pass was a deep ball to Montgomery, but Montgomery couldn’t make the grab while tumbling to the turf.
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives in the second quarter, with a 5-yard run by veteran Knile Davis and a 3-yard run by Darrin Reaves. After Callahan couldn’t do anything with a two-minute possession that started near midfield, the Chiefs tacked on a 42-yard field goal by Cairo Santos on the final play of the half to make it 17-7.
The Packers’ offense couldn’t do anything after halftime. The four possessions directed by Callahan gained 11 yards, lost 1 yard, gained 6 yards and gained 12 yards. The third of those drives ended in a fumble by Brandon Burks, who was in the driver’s seat to be the No. 3 running back.
Price’s strip, which was recovered by cornerback Demetri Goodson at the Chiefs’ 39, gave the Packers a chance for a late comeback. On the first play, quarterback Marquise Williams eluded up-the-middle pressure and threw deep to Geronimo Allison, who drew an interference penalty at the 4. But the Packers couldn’t pound it in. After a first-down throwaway, undrafted rookie back Brandon Ross couldn’t score on three consecutive runs, including a minus-2 on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
Burks and Ross combined for 55 yards on 22 attempts with a long run of just 9.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.