‘We have to move on'

Mike Flanagan looked like a kid on Christmas morning when Kansas City Chiefs kicker Morten Andersen had his 48-yard field goal attempt in overtime blocked. But his face couldn't have been any longer as he sat in his locker following the Green Bay Packers' 40-34 overtime loss to the Chiefs Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.<p>

The Green Bay center, along with 70,407 Lambeau crazies, watched in disbelief as the Packers blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to the talented and explosive Chiefs. And suddenly, a season that was beginning to look promising thanks to blowout wins against Chicago and Seattle the previous two weeks now has as much certainty as a 20-year-old jalopy surviving a cross country road trip.

What in the world went wrong? Plenty.

Turnovers, very little pass rush, dropped balls, interceptions lost — pick your favorite.

But what's done is done, and at this point, there's very little the Packers can do except shake the loss off and move ahead.

"We got that ball back, and we thought it was over," Flanagan said of the blocked field goal. "I guarantee you there wasn't a guy on that team that didn't think it was over."

But it wasn't. Running back Ahman Green fumbled the ball back to the Chiefs on the Packers' first play of the ensuing series and then Kansas City quarterback Trent Green sealed the win when he connected with wide receiver Eddie Kennison, who was running a tight sideline sprint, for a 51-yard game-winning touchdown pass on the very next play.

To say the loss crushed the Packers' spirits would be like saying Wrigleyville will be rocking and rolling if the Cubbies win the World Series for the first time in nearly a century.

"It's a tough one to swallow," Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre said. "Kansas City made some great plays and fought back.

"It's tough because we fought hard, and everybody out there, including Kansas City, left it out on the field. It's hard to beat Green Bay in Green Bay. It's tough to do...but you have to give them a lot of credit."

The Chiefs came into Lambeau as arguably the NFL's best team at 5-0. They left even more confident knowing that they could erase a double-digit deficit with 12-plus minutes remaining in the game at one of the toughest places for opponents to play in the league.

This is a victory that could propel the Chiefs to an AFC championship and perhaps a Vince Lombardi Trophy come February.

But what about the Packers? What's going to happen to them?

With its offense clicking, its defense doing enough to slow down the Chiefs' potent offensive attack and its special teams containing all-everything return man Dante Hall, Green Bay had built a 31-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter before the wheels completely fell off.

And instead of celebrating their third straight victory and a 4-2 record, the Packers solemnly dressed in the locker room afterward looking as though they couldn't quite comprehend what had just happened.

"We have to move on," Packers safety Marques Anderson said. "Ain't nothin' over. It's a long season. What we have to do is get our heads straight, come back to work and be ready to go."

That's easier said than done.

With two home losses already and a crippling defeat to the lowly Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 21, the Packers have painted themselves into a corner that will be tough to get out from.

Next on the docket is a road clash against St. Louis, followed by a bye week and then another road matchup against division-leading Minnesota. That's two straight games inside a dome, and we all know Green Bay's less-than-impressive track record when it comes to playing in domed stadiums.

It's not far-fetched to think the Packers will be sporting a 3-5 record as they gear up for their Monday Night home game against Philadelphia on Nov. 10. And if that's the case, an entire season would be hanging in the balance.

"As hard as it is, we've got to put (the loss) behind us now," said safety Darren Sharper. "You can't beat yourself up over this. There's a lot of games to go." Without question, the Packers are at a crossroads, and it will be interesting to see which path they ultimately go down.

They said all the right things to the reporters who had gathered in the locker room, but lip service doesn't mean all that much when it comes to football. After all, the biggest statements often come on the field, not next to a locker.

"That's the thing about football, there's no subjectivity with a record," said right tackle Mark Tauscher. "Give the Kansas City Chiefs credit. They're 6-0, and we're not. Are we a 3-3 football team? Absolutely. That's what our record says."

And at this point, that's not saying much at all.

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