Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed why he is the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player as he picked apart the Kansas City Chiefs secondary for 333 yards passing and five touchdowns in route to an easy 38-28 win Monday night. Rodgers, who tends to play his best at Lambeau Field on national television, found wide receiver Randall Cobb for three of his five scoring passes and raised the Packers record to 3-0. The Chiefs record dropped to 1-2 on the young season, tied for fourth place in the AFC West with the San Diego Chargers and sitting behind the Oakland Raiders (2-1) and the Denver Broncos (3-0).
Jamaal Charles was one of only two bright spots for KC in an otherwise brutal game to watch. The running back scored three touchdowns for the Chiefs as they rallied from a 31-7 third quarter deficit to put a mild scare into the Packers at the end of the game. Charles scored on a 7-yard run with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and a successful two-point attempt would have pulled the Chiefs to within one score, but Alex Smith’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete and the threat was over.
The only other bright light for the Chiefs on a drizzly night in Green Bay was wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who finally showed why the Chiefs were excited to get him as a free agent this offseason. Maclin was shut out without a catch in the first half, but he and Smith finally connected in the second half. Maclin finished the game with 8 catches on 11 targets for 141 yards and a touchdown catch.
For players, coaches and fans of the team, Maclin’s biggest play of the night was the touchdown catch in the third quarter that broke a mind-boggling streak of games without a touchdown catch from a wide receiver. The streak began in Week 17 of the 2013 season and lasted until Monday night – a string of 18 games. It became something of an albatross around the neck of the team who grew tired of answering questions about it. Finally, they won’t have to answer that question anymore.
However, the team will have to question how good they are on defense as Rodgers and the Packers offense ran through them and around them with ease throughout most of the game, racking up 448 total yards. Worse, when the defense did step up and force fourth downs, ill-timed and foolish penalties gave Rodgers another chance to keep the drives alive, and he did.
The Packers defense, inspired by a raucous home crowd, kept Jamaal Charles in check most of the night and chased Smith all over the field on every pass attempt. Most of the damage done by the Chiefs offense came after Green Bay had the game wrapped up.
Smith had a miserable game, completing 24 of 40 pass attempts for 290 yards and the touchdown to Maclin as well as one interception. Though fans will point the blame at Smith (which is practically an industry unto itself in KC), the quarterback was sacked seven times and completed only two of seven passes in the first half for 37 yards. For Smith-haters, it didn’t help their mood that Rodgers was carving the Chiefs up while Smith was having trouble completing a pass.
It might not be fair, but Smith and Rodgers will be linked forever due to their position and the 2005 NFL Draft when Smith was the #1 pick of the San Francisco 49ers while Rodgers dropped to Green Bay at #24. While Rodgers is quickly building a Hall of Fame career, Smith has been tagged with the moniker, “game manager”, which is kind of like telling your friend that the ugly blind date you’ve set him or her up with has a “nice personality”.
Rodgers took advantage of the absence of starting cornerback, Sean Smith, who was serving the final game of his three-game suspension due to an incident last year. Last week, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning threw at will against Jamell Fleming, who was filling in for Smith. This week, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton tried Marcus Cooper in place of Fleming and Cooper might have been worse than Fleming.
Cooper was burned repeatedly by Cobb (seven catches, 91 yards, 3 TDs) and James Jones (seven catches, 139 yards, 1 TD) and the lack of depth in the secondary became an even bigger problem when starting cornerback Philip Gaines left the game in the first quarter with an ankle sprain and Fleming left the game because of a groin sprain. Running back Knile Davis suffered a mild ankle sprain, but came back into the game later.
So when the sun rises in KC on Tuesday morning, the Alex Smith Haters Club will be out in full force in your school or office and other than mentioning the woeful state of the offensive line, Smith hasn’t given you much to defend him with since the first half of the Texans game in Week One. You can try to remind them that when Aaron Rodgers had an offensive line as bad and inexperienced as the Chiefs, he wasn’t putting up MVP numbers either, but it won’t do any good. Smith is at the point where the only way he gets credit for anything will be the day he’s holding aloft the Vince Lombardi Trophy for winning the Super Bowl. And even then, some Kansas Citians will still hate him.
The Chiefs will have to put this stinker behind them quickly as they play only two of their next seven games at Arrowhead, beginning next week in Cincinnati against the 3-0 Bengals. It definitely doesn’t get easier for KC, does it?