The Green Bay Packers took a step backwards Sunday by losing to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 40 - 34. Sadly, the Pack managed to let this one slip away, as they allowed the Chiefs to overcome a 17 point deficit in the fourth quarter and then pull out a victory in overtime.
A purist football fan probably saw this game as swell entertainment, but a diehard cheesehead isn't accustomed to watching the Green and Gold snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Lambeau Field. Comebacks at Lambeau after the Pack enjoys a substantial lead are almost unheard of, but a freak play when a Brett Favre pass was tipped into the hands of a defender and run back for a TD changed the momentum and the outcome of this game. Still, one bad-luck play cannot account for a loss.
The Packers defensive line is hurting and those players who are playing are not playing productively. In this game the Pack could not get any kind of a pass rush generated. Perhaps that was partially due to their success (until the overtime period) of shutting down Kansas City's running game and the talented Priest Holmes. Still, without a rush, veteran QB Trent Green was able to pick away at the Packer secondary almost at will. Noticeably absent again this game was any abundance of secondary or linebacker blitzes, which apparently are needed this year to put pressure on the QB. I thought the defensive play calling was unimaginative.
The offense was quite typically Packer and they performed well. Favre threw the ball around to a whole host of receivers and Ahman Green had another outstanding day. But"¦ there was also the Favre pass and then a Green fumble in overtime, two turnovers that cost the Pack the game. The sweet and the bitter produced a game that should have been won, but it wasn't.
The Packer's special teams pretty much contained Dante Hall but he came within a whisker from breaking yet another TD on a punt return. The Pack's special teams squads used some questionable tactics to control Hall, such as two kick-offs out of bounds and another with 12 players on the field, but all-in-all, they played pretty well.
It is hard to be a cheesehead and accept the outcome of a game like this. The Pack played well enough to win, but in the end, they blew it. The radio announcer claimed that the Pack was 56 - 0 at Lambeau when the Pack was up by 10 points at halftime. So now the record stands at 56 - 1. It is hard to figure how to analyze it. On the positive side, the Pack was able to play even-up and at times even dominate the now 6 - 0 Chiefs, a team that arguably is the best in the NFL this year. On the other hand, the Pack has lost to the hated Vikings in Lambeau, the pathetic Cardinals and now this game, a game that they should have won.
I suggested in an earlier column that the Pack's Achilles' heel this year might be their defensive line and I am afraid that such is becoming a truism. I don't see the talent right now in the Pack's defensive trench to produce a championship season. Barring an unlikely change of events in player development (wouldn't it be nice if Jamal Reynolds played anywhere near the level expected of him when he was drafted so high in 2001?), methinks the Pack needs to revamp their personnel in this area in the off season.
Next week the Pack travels to St. Louis where they should be the short underdog to topple the Rams. Look for another high scoring game and an unpredictable outcome.
A prediction that I will make is that I will be elk hunting in Colorado next week, so this column will be on vacation.