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The Winning Streak is Over (12/21/2011)
By Dave DeLano

The Green Bay Packersí 19-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Sunday as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Kansas City Chiefs and lost by a score of 19 Ė 14. The Packers had a chance to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and to keep their season perfect, but that was not to be. The Packers are now 13 Ė 1 this season.

Inexplicably, the Packers came into this game looking uninspired and unfocused. The Packer defense set the tone by allowing the Chiefs to set the tempo on offense as they marched right down the field on the opening drive. Cheeseheads have seen this same scenario too many times this year. However, unlike previous contests, on Sunday there were no key turnovers to save the day. The Chiefs chewed up yardage and maintained time of possession all too often in this game.

The Packer offense didnít fare much better. The usual offensive juggernaut of Aaron Rodgers and Company misfired and sputtered, generating only two scores on the afternoon, clearly not up to the standards set by the team that leads the league in both scoring and touchdowns. Dropped passes at the NFL level are almost always due to a lack of concentration. I counted five such instances and most of them were committed by Jermichael Finley.

With Greg Jennings sidelined with a knee injury for the balance of the regular season, Finley was schemed to take up a good share of Jenningsí production. Finley is in a contract year and could be poised to make a lot of money next year, but he has to play better than he did against the Chiefs. He has amazing talent but was a big disappointment Sunday.

Also of concern is the mounting number of injuries. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga sprained his knee and was replaced by last yearís first round draft pick, Derek Sherrod. Later in the game Sherrod broke his leg so there are serious issues on the offensive line for Mike McCarthy to figure out as the regular season winds down and with the playoffs just around the corner. Rodgers didnít have a great game either. Having a revolving offensive line is not something the Packers need at this point in the season.

The last time the Packers lost a football game was 364 days ago. Cheeseheads have since been badly spoiled by the Packersí winning ways. Getting dominated by a very mediocre team like the Chiefs is painful. An argument could be made that it is better to get a ďbadĒ game done and over with before the playoffs begin, but I donít buy that. A focused Packer team would have devoured the Chiefs today. I donít know what caused the hiccup, but letís hope that this game was an anomaly.

The Packersí final two games of the regular season are at home beginning on Christmas night against the Chicago Bears. The Bears lost their quarterback to injury a couple weeks ago and havenít been able to muster much of a punch since. Hopefully Bulagaís knee injury isnít too bad and some of the other wounded can heal up by then. McCarthy is one of the best coaches in the business and hopefully he can eradicate the focus issues to beat up on Da Bears. 


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