Green Bay’s quest for an undefeated season skidded right off the rails and buried itself into the scenery at Arrowhead Stadium this week. While everybody else was talking about what point in the game the Packers were going to pull their starters for a well-earned rest, Kyle Orton was out to remind everybody that he can play football pretty well at times.
The Chiefs really dominated this game and should have been well ahead at the half, but for their complete inability to convert on three trips into the red zone. In the end, they survived a brief comeback by the Packers to get their first win without Todd Haley at the controls. Orton also had a nice advantage of this being his second time around against the Packers, having faced them when he led the Broncos back in Week 4.
For the Packers things simply just weren’t firing. Aaron Rodgers seemed strangely off target, and then his O-line started to drop like flies and leak pressure badly, making his job even harder. Let’s find out what else went on in one of the biggest surprise games of Week 15.
Green Bay – Three Performances of Note
Picked a Bad Time for the Protection to Fall Apart
Green Bay’s offensive line has been a strength of the team for most of the season, but that is in danger of unraveling at the worst possible time. Marshall Newhouse (-5.1) and Derek Sherrod (-3.1) were the biggest problems on the line here. Sherrod only played 19 snaps after coming in for an injured Brian Bulaga (0.3) at right tackle, before being lost himself due to a broken right leg. The Chiefs were able to harass the Aaron Rodgers around the edge all day, forcing him to get rid of the ball a split second before he was ready on seemingly every throw. He also began to feel pressure that wasn’t necessarily there and was no longer trusting his protection fully, always a danger sign for quarterbacks. Newhouse only gave up one sack, but surrendered five more pressures and generally had his hands more than full with Tamba Hali all day.
Dropping the Ball
Part of what makes Aaron Rodgers 2011 so remarkable is the fact that no quarterback in the NFL has had more passes dropped than the 40 from the Green Bay receivers. The receiving corps chipped in with another five in this game, and another couple of passes that were fingertips away from being hauled in. The Packers get a lot of credit, rightfully, for the talent of their receivers, but they can’t just flash big plays. The Packer receivers need to eliminate the drops and make the simple plays that hit them in the hands. Jermichael Finley (-1.7) continued to struggle, with a pair of drops to lead the team. He was also overmatched as a run blocker, which thankfully he was only tasked with 13 times in the game.
Sitton Doesn’t Miss a Beat
Back in the lineup after injury, Josh Sitton (+3.4) looked like the All-Pro caliber player he was before he left. Sitton was perfect in pass protection, keeping Rodgers clean on all 44 of his pass blocking snaps. He also contributed a couple of positive plays in the run game. Sitton’s performance was so steady in this game that in his 62 snaps on offense he received just a single negative grade. This came with 6:57 to go in the first quarter when he allowed his defender to beat him to the outside and make a tackle for a short gain. Sitton and C Scott Wells (+1.1) now represent the clear strength of the Packers’ offensive line and while they may still be playing as well as ever, things are falling down around them
Kansas City – Three Things of Note
Kyle Orton Has Always Been Able to Do a Job
If you protect Kyle Orton (+3.7) he has always been able to play pretty well and do a job for somebody as a starter. He may never be able to put together the kind of season Aaron Rodgers is having, but he can win games and move the football. Orton looked poised all game long, and was able to sit back behind solid protection and find his open receiver at will. Were it not for some obvious chemistry issues on back shoulder throws with his receivers, in particular Jonathan Baldwin (0.0), then his numbers may have been even better. Teams will always look to cast Orton aside and look for an upgrade, but this type of game is the showcase for what he can do if a team builds around him.
Tamba Hali (+4.9) has had a bit of a quiet season by his lofty standards so far but he exploded in this game and was a real thorn in the side of the Green Bay offense all day long. He recorded three sacks and six more pressures in the game, which might lead you to expect an even higher grade. However, not all of that pressure was very quick in coming, or came by beating offensive tackles. Two of his three sacks came as a result of movement from the quarterback or pressure flushing Rodgers into Hali’s path and two of his pressures came unblocked. Make no mistake though, this was a fine day at the office for the Chiefs linebacker, and whether the production came from hustle plays or not, he was getting home and doing damage
Lucky At the Back
The Chiefs were in truth a little lucky to escape some big plays on the back end. The Packers were inches at times from connecting on some big plays here. The play of Travis Daniels (-3.1) and Javier Arenas (-3.2) in particular, deserved to yield bigger results for the Pack. The pair combined to give up ten receptions and 176 yards through the air. It could have been even more if not for penalties on the offense nullifying plays. Between drops from the Green Bay receivers and some off-timing, the Chiefs were fortunate at times to ride their luck and avoid some significant bullets.
– Brandon Carr was thrown at six times but allowed just a single reception for eight yards. That translates to 1.3 yards per target.
– Every member of the Chiefs starting 11 on offense graded positively for the game, with all five linemen in the green.
– Aaron Rodgers’ completion percentage was 48.6%, taking away the five drops, two throw aways and a spike, he was accurate on 68.8% of his passes.
PFF Game Ball
Tamba Hali and Kyle Orton. This was a complete effort on both sides of the ball for Kansas City, so Orton and Hali share the spoils.