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Chiefs break Packers' bid for perfection

POSTED December 19, 2011 5:39 a.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aaron Rodgers kept misfiring, and his receivers kept dropping passes. Typically reliable Mason Crosby missed a field goal, and the Green Bay defense couldn't make a stop.

Nothing was perfect about the previously unbeaten Packers on Sunday.

Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards to outduel Rodgers, one of the game's elite quarterbacks, and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied behind interim coach Romeo Crennel for a shocking 19-14 victory that ended the Packers' 19-game winning streak. It was their first loss since Dec. 19, 2010, at New England.

Green Bay, playing without leading receiver Greg Jennings and top rusher James Starks because of injuries, also squandered a chance to wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"I didn't see a bunch of guys running around talking about 16-0. That was my sense of it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We knew what type of game we were coming into today. This was no surprise. It wasn't just talk. We answered the questions all week.

"We knew we were coming into a juggernaut and we didn't overcome it."

If the Packers knew they were facing a juggernaut, they might have been the only ones.

The Chiefs had lost five of their last six games, which culminated in the firing of coach Todd Haley last Monday. Tyler Palko, who started the past four games at quarterback, wasn't even active Sunday as Crennel opted to go with Orton in his first start since arriving in Kansas City.

Orton wound up putting together the kind of solid performance the Chiefs have been lacking since Matt Cassel went on injured reserve because of a hurt throwing hand — perhaps even before that.

"That was a good football team we beat," Orton said. "The coaches put together a good game plan for us. Everybody on offense, everybody on the team, did their job. They didn't try to do too much."

Rodgers was 17 of 35 for 235 yards and a touchdown, and he also scampered 8 yards for another touchdown with 2:12 left. But the Packers (13-1) were unable to recover the onside kick, and Kansas City picked up a couple of first downs to secure the victory.

"I knew we had the 2-minute (warning) and three timeouts, regardless if we kicked it deeper or onside," Rodgers said. "If they got it, we had a chance to stop them and get the ball back."

Ryan Succop kicked four field goals for Kansas City (6-8), while Jackie Battle added a short touchdown plunge with 4:53 left in that ultimately sealed the win.

"Everybody had marked it off as a win for the Packers, but those guys in the locker room, they're football players," Crennel said. "They decided that they were not going to lay down. They were not going to give up, so they went out and played a tremendous game."

Neither team played all that tremendous in the first half.

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was hit twice with offensive pass interference, Rodgers was harassed by the Chiefs weak pass rush, and Green Bay wound up making five first downs.

One of them came when Kansas City's Jeremy Horne ran into punter Tim Masthay, giving the Packers 15 free yards. The Chiefs tried to give Green Bay another gift later on the drive when Crosby missed a 59-yard field-goal attempt but Kansas City had 12 men on the field.

With another chance from 54 yards, Crosby again pushed the kick right.

Rodgers finished the half 6 of 17 for 59 yards, with a handful of drops between wide receiver Donald Driver and tight end Jermichael Finley. In fact, things were going so badly for Green Bay that at one point it ran out of the wildcat despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the game.

The Chiefs were still clinging to a 6-0 lead when Rodgers finally hit down field, finding Finley over top the coverage for a 41-yard gain. Three plays later, the star quarterback hit Driver in the corner of the end zone for a 7-6 lead with 8:04 left in the third quarter.

Kansas City answered when Orton hit his own tight end, Leonard Pope, for a career-long 38-yard catch. Jon Baldwin added a 17-yard grab to set up Succop's 46-yard, go-ahead field goal.

The Packers moved into field-goal range on their ensuing drive, but rather than have Crosby attempt a 56-yard kick in the same direction he had already missed, McCarthy elected to go for it on fourth-and-9. Rodgers' pass fell incomplete and the Chiefs took over.

They needed seven plays to cover 59 yards, but had to settle for another field goal and a 12-7 lead. It was the third time the Chiefs drove inside the 5 and had six total points to show for it.

They got seven on their next trip, though.

With first-and-goal at the 5, Thomas Jones managed to gain a yard and Le'Ron McClain bulled ahead for three more, setting up third down from just outside the goal line. Battle took the carry over the right side and powered into the end zone, giving the woeful Kansas City offense its highest-scoring game since the Chiefs beat San Diego in overtime in late October.

The Packers marched down field in the closing minutes, and Rodgers showed his moxie by scampering around the end for a touchdown that made it 19-14. But the onside kick ended up in the Chiefs ' hands, and they were able to pound out a couple first downs to secure the upset victory.

Green Bay came into the game averaging nearly 36 points, but was held to its lowest total since beating the Chicago Bears 10-3 in Week 17 last year. The Packers needed to win that game to make the playoffs, and wound up riding the momentum to a Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

All that momentum finally came to an end in the most unlikely of scenarios.

"We set the tone on both sides of the ball," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "This is the great thing about football. You can't always look at the records, because you've got grown men out there who are all getting paid. You don't have to be better on paper.

"If you're better on that given Sunday, you'll get the win."

Notes: Succop has made 21 consecutive field goals. ... The Chiefs wound up having the ball for 36:11, while Green Bay had it for 23:49. ... Packers OL Derek Sherrod broke his leg in the fourth quarter. He was playing in place of Bryan Bulaga, who went down with a knee strain.


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