I expected a low scoring game, and I my prediction was 100% correct, in the first half. The second half was a lot like the first half, but did the scoring ever jump up. The offense did what it has been doing all season, except Mike McCarthy is more willing to run the ball. Unfortunately the Packers run offense still isn't able to get it done against average or better run defenses and only managed 2.9 yards/carry in this game. The defense played their usual game by stopping the run and getting killed by the opponents tight end. Fortunately the Packers' cornerbacks got the best of Kansas City's wide receivers, so if TE Tony Gonzalez wasn't involved, Kansas City's offense did little in this game. The Packers remain unbeaten this season when they have two turnovers or less, so the fumbles recovered by OL Mark Tauscher and Tony Moll may have been two of the biggest plays in the game. The one guy that really concerned me coming into this game was Chiefs' DE Jared Allen, who had 8 sacks in 5 games before Sunday. One unsung MVP in this game was LT Chad Clifton who spent much of the game one-on-one against Allen, and although Allen did manage a half-sack, he didn't make a difference in this game.
First Half: Kansas City's offense was determined to keep it simple and go with their workhorses, and as a result their offense generated less that 70 yards in the first half. Establishing the run was their first priority, and Kansas City got no push on the Packers defensive line and RB Larry Johnson ran 8 times for 25 yards in the half. Johnson did manage to catch a couple passes, along with Gonzalez who had 5 receptions in the first half, but those two were the only guys that caught a pass for K.C. in the first half. Kansas City's wide receivers managed 4 catches in the 2nd half, but none by star rookie WR Dwayne Bowe, as the Packers' corners did a great job of shutting them down. QB Brett Favre had one of his worst halves of football this season. The interception thrown to CB Patrick Surtain was not a great pass and was overthrown which is usually how he misses receivers. But it was still not a bad half on offense, three of the five first half drives moved the ball into Kansas City territory and led to two field goals. RB Ryan Grant had his second fumble of the season on an exchange from Favre. Neither fumble has hurt the Packers, but no other running back has fumbled this season and it might explain why RB Brandon Jackson was carrying the ball late in the game when they were trying to run out the clock. It wouldn't be surprising if Jackson reclaims his starting job ahead of Grant in an upcoming game because of the fumbles and he appears to be healthy again. However the biggest problem was on the offensive line. Allen got to Favre on his fumble by stunting into the middle, all the way around the center, and right up the middle for the sack. That wasn't the only time the offensive line seemed to have trouble determining their blocking assignments. On one play DT Aaron Boone managed to run straight up the middle unblocked. LG Daryn Colledge was assigned Boone one-on-one in pass protection early, and Boone got the best of him. He drove Colledge into the deep into the backfield on two or three occasions, and Boone managed to hit Favre on the arm which led to Favre's second interception late in the first half. There was well over a minute left in the first half, the Packers had been able to move the pass against Kansas City, and of course the Packers would try to move down the field at least one last time before the end of the half. For the second week in a row, penalties were a big problem for the Packers and none was bigger than S Atari Bigby's pass interference in the end zone which set up a short TD run for Johnson to essentially end the half. This is the second week in a row that the Packers have had a lot of penalties, but it has been on two road games and hopefully the penalties become fewer as the season goes on.
Second Half: It may seem like the offense really came to life for the Packers, and for Kansas City too, but Kansas City was still doing the same thing they did in the first half (getting the ball almost exclusively to Johnson and Gonzalez) except this half it, along with some big penalty yards, led to two TD drives. The Packers offense was keyed by three things. C Scott Wells replaced RG Tony Moll (C Jason Spitz moved over to RG), Favre got two big pass plays to WR Greg Jennings, and QB Damon Huard threw 2 INTs that became two Packer TDs. Wells told reporters he felt rusty and wasn't sure why he came into the game after missing most of last week with pneumonia, but the reason he came in was the pass pressure Allen and Boone were getting up the middle. The middle of the line was much better in protection during the second half, and Allen and Boone were hardly mentioned the rest of the game. Maybe Wells is just that much better at blitz pickup and blocking assignments, he did seem much more active on the line at pointing out the blitz than when Spitz was at center. Huard had pressure in his face most of the game, but he ended up making two bad passes that led to interceptions in this half. Both CB Charles Woodson and LB A.J. Hawk did a good job at staying with their man in coverage while being able to react and run with the ball after Huard's missed passes led to INTs. Hawk's INT was quickly converted into Jennings' first TD reception, while Woodson had a great TD return that sealed the victory. This is the second week that Jennings had a slow first half, but then picked it up big in the second half. This week he had one big first half drop that essentially ended a drive, and last week at Denver there was one sideline shot on TV showing Favre talking to him apparently about where he expects his route to be run. Favre and Jennings don't seem to always be on the same page. However, for the second week in a row, they got on the same page for a long TD bomb. Last week the catch ended the game in OT and this week it got the Packers the lead back for good with 3 minutes left in the game.
Two key players on defense were carted off in this game; FS Nick Collins and DT Corey Williams. Collins might seem like a big loss with Bigby struggling in coverage against tight ends, but rookie S Aaron Rouse has come in as an injury replacement two times this season and played well both times. Williams had two sacks in this game and has played well this season, but the Packers have depth at defensive tackle if he misses some time. Collins injury is potentially more severe, but neither injury looks serious at this point.