The Packers' seven-game winning streak came to an end Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium with a 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are five takeaways from the defeat:
1. QB Jordan Love's first start wasn't pretty, but it was far from all his fault.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur lamented not having answers against Kansas City's incessant blitzing. The pass protection had more breakdowns in this game than perhaps all season. The special teams botched two field goals and had one costly turnover, almost two.
After more than 3½ shutout quarters, down 13 points, Love finally got the Packers on the board with a 20-yard TD pass to Allen Lazard on fourth down with 4:54 left, but it was too little, too late.
Kansas City's repeated blitzes on third down limited Green Bay's struggling offense to just two conversions in 12 attempts, both coming on the late TD drive. Love finished 19-of-34 for 190 yards with one TD, one interception and a 69.5 passer rating.
"It wasn't necessarily any one person," LaFleur said. "There's a lot to get corrected. Squarely this thing falls on me – just not having a good enough plan to go out there versus that pressure, especially with a young quarterback."
2. The Packers' defense kept them in the game all the way to the end.
The Chiefs have not looked like the two-time defending AFC champions very often this season, and the Packers kept it that way, limiting them to just 14 first downs and 237 yards of total offense.
As much as Love struggled, former league MVP Patrick Mahomes threw for fewer yards (166) and had more incompletions (17 vs. 15, going 20-of-37) than the first-time starter.
"That was a championship-level effort, championship-level execution," LaFleur said of the defense. "I was really proud of those guys."
Green Bay got a huge fourth-down stop early in the second quarter, forced four three-and-outs, and held the Chiefs to a field goal after the special-teams turnover gave them first-and-goal on the 10.
If there's one play the defense would love to have back, it was the last one, as Mahomes scrambled away from pressure and fired a 13-yard completion to Tyreek Hill on third-and-10 just after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
With a stop there, Green Bay's offense would have gotten one more possession. Instead, Kansas City ran out the clock. The Chiefs were just 4-of-13 on third down until the late conversion.
3. The Packers' special teams severely damaged the team's chances for victory.
In the first half, kicker Mason Crosby missed a 40-yard field goal wide left and then had a 37-yarder blocked when the interior protection leaked. Holder Corey Bojorquez was having trouble getting the laces in the right place on new snapper Steven Wirtel's snaps, though it's hard to know whether that was a factor on the blocked kick.
"Obviously we could have used the six points," LaFleur said. "And we basically gave them points when we fumbled the ball. We can't have that happen."
On the problem punt, rookie returner Amari Rodgers didn't charge up to catch it, and then the bouncing ball nicked Malik Taylor on the foot as he got bowled over by a Chiefs gunner. Kansas City recovered and kicked a field goal for a 10-0 lead with two minutes left in the first half.
Rodgers muffed another punt but luckily recovered it himself. Kansas City's punt game also forced Green Bay to start four possessions inside its own 15-yard line, including one at the 2.
The Green Bay Packers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in a Week 9 matchup on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.
4. The Packers lost no ground in the division race and weren't the only NFC contender to have a frustrating day.
Minnesota lost in overtime at Baltimore, 34-31, so at 3-5 the Vikings remain 3½ games behind the 7-2 Packers in the NFC North. The Bears, at 3-5, could pull within three games with a win on Monday night vs. Pittsburgh.
Dallas also suffered its second loss, 30-16, to Denver, so the Cowboys are 6-2, while New Orleans fell to Atlanta, 27-25, to drop to 5-3.
The only one-loss teams remaining in the NFC are the Cardinals, who beat the 49ers to improve to 8-1, and the Rams, who were playing Sunday night at the time of this posting. (Update: The Rams also picked up their second loss, getting beat by the Titans.)
5. If Aaron Rodgers is cleared, he's starting next week vs. Seattle.
Rodgers is first eligible to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, the day before the home game vs. the Seahawks. LaFleur said if he's cleared, he will play despite not being able to take any practice snaps this past week or next week.
"He's our starting quarterback," LaFleur said. "We just have to make sure he's well in-tune with our plan and he feels good about it, and that we Zoom him in for the meetings.
"We'll see where we're at toward the end of the week."