For the Packers, everything appeared to be right with the world as the fourth quarter began Sunday. They had already scored on five of their first seven positions, amassing the imposing total of 350 yards of offense, and were the possessors of a 17-point lead, making a third straight victory look like a reasonably sure thing at that juncture.
But the football fates began to turn on them early in the final period when the Chiefs' gifted returner, Dante Hall, largely silenced by the Packers' vigilant coverage previously, staged a 32-yard runback of a Josh Bidwell punt to give Kansas City enviable field position at the Green Bay 42-yard line.
The Chiefs were in the end zone in 6 plays, Priest Holmes hitting right end for the final yard and the score. But, after Morten Andersen's conversion, the Packers were still up by 10. And, the Green and Gold immediately strung three first downs together and appeared en route to the end zone.
The comfortable "climate" suddenly changed, however, when a Brett Favre throw was tipped, then intercepted by Chiefs safety Jerome Woods, who sprinted 79 yards down the east sideline to the end zone. Abruptly, with another Anderson PAT, it was 31-28, and, in effect, anybody's game.
Matters became even more constricting when the Packers went three-and-out following the next kickoff and the Chiefs quickly moved to a game-tying, 34-yard Andersen field goal, set up by a 67-yard Trent Green collaboration with tight end Tony Gonzales, which carried the Missourians to the Green Bay 13-yard line.
With Favre presiding over a pair of first downs, the Packers promptly responded by moving into field goal position in 7 plays and Longwell, who has not missed all season, delivered a 41-yard bullseye to put Green Bay up, 34-31, with 2:43 left in regulation.
It was not, however, to be enough. Trent Green maneuvered the Chiefs to the Green Bay 13-yard line in 12 plays and Andersen kicked a game-tying 31-yard field goal with one second left to send the game into sudden death.
What transpired in the overtime bordered upon the unbelievable. The Chiefs won the coin toss prior to the sudden death period and launched their victory bid, surprisingly enough, by proceeding to run the football - repeatedly - after being limited to a mere 41 yards rushing in 15 attempts during the first four quarters. Trent Green called Priest Holmes' number 9 consecutive times and he responded with 41 yards, moving Kansas City to the Green Bay 30-yard line.
After a third-down pass, intended for Hall, was broken up by Packers safety Darren Sharper, Andersen was summoned and, this time, he saw his 48-yard effort tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt, the ball falling far short the uprights.
It looked like the Packers had not only been afforded a reprieve but, starting from their own 39-yard line, enviable field position to pull out a victory. But only for seconds. Ahman Green hitting left end for an 8-yard gain, fumbled when hit by Woods and Kansas City linebacker Mike Maslowski recovered the loose leather at the Chiefs' 49-yard line.
On the next play, Trent Green found Eddie Kennison in the open and the latter raced into the end zone for the deciding score.
As the statistics eloquently attest, it was almost entirely an offensive shootout. The Chiefs rolled up 482 yards, including 400 passing, and the Packers 440 yards - 183 rushing and 257 passing - in forging their second impressive performance in succession.
Surprisingly enough, in view of the circumstances, the Packers emerged with a substantial advantage in time of possession, controlling the football for 36 minutes and 35 seconds to the Chiefs' 29 minutes and 43 seconds.
Favre, executing with impressive precision, completed 25 of 36 passes for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception, and distributed the football to nine different receivers while emerging with a 98.4 passer rating.
Ahman Green, meanwhile, paced a potent running game, rushing for 139 yards in 26 attempts, a 5.3-yard average, and one touchdown.
Rookie middle linebacker Nick Barnett paced a shorthanded defense with 14 stops, 12 of them solos, and Marques Anderson, who stepped in for an injured Antuan Edwards at strong safety, weighed in with 13 tackles, 10 of them unassisted.
THE FAVRE FILE: As he does almost every week, Favre continued to make NFL and Packers history. By throwing two touchdown passes, he increased his Lambeau Field total to 156, the second-most scoring tosses by a quarterback in any NFL stadium in league annals. He thus passed Dan Marino, who had thrown 155 TD passes in Miami's Joe Robbie/Pro Player Stadium. John Elway, with 180 at Denver's Mile High Stadium, holds the league record.
From the Packers perspective, Favre played in his 181st consecutive game, thus tying LeRoy Butler for fourth place in Packers history (Butler's 181 games were not consecutive). Favre also advanced to within six games of the team's all-time leader for consecutive games played, Forrest Gregg (187).
Bart Starr owns the team record for most games played, 196 (not consecutive), Ray Nitschke (190) and Gregg (187) follow.
Favre also made his 179th consecutive start, extending his NFL record for quarterbacks. It also is the longest current starting streak for any NFL player at any position.
THE GREEN FILE: Ahman Green made further inroads into Packers history Sunday, climbing into third place in combined running back rushing and receiving yards. With 190 yards (139 rushing and 51 receiving) Green parlayed his career production to 6,214 yards and moved past John Brockington (6,099).
Green, who has 4,501 yards rushing and 1,713 receiving, now is only 126 yards back of second-place Gerry Ellis (6,340 yards - 3,826 rushing and 2,514 receiving). Jim Taylor is the team's all-time's leader with 9,712 yards (8,207 rushing and 1,505 receiving).
Green's 139-yard rushing performance was the 18th 100-yard effort as a Packer, the 19th of his pro career.
It also was the third consecutive 100-yard game for the highly productive ex-Cornhusker, who thus set a Packers record in the process. His 139-yard effort followed upon a career-best 176 yards vs. the Bears Sept. 29 and a 118-yard performance against Seattle Oct. 5, giving him 433 yards over the three-game span, surpassing the 419 yards Jim Taylor rolled up in setting the record during the 1962 season.
In so doing, Green also became only the third running back in team annals to post three consecutive 100-yard rushing games, joining John Brockington and Dorsey Levens.
THE LONGWELL FILE: Placekicker Ryan Longwell's 50-yard field goal in the third quarter lifted him above Paul Hornung into third place on the Packers' all-time scoring list. With a 10-point afternoon, Longwell padded his career total to 766 points, 6 more than Hornung posted during his 9-year Packers career (1957-'62, '64-66).
The fabled Don Hutson is the team's all-time leader with 823 points, followed by Chris Jacke with 820.
Longwell, who has not missed a field goal or extra point this season, has made all 21 EPA and all 7 FGs he has attempted.
His 50-yard field goal, the seventh of 50 yards or longer he has registered over his career, was the longest he has made in Lambeau Field.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:
(on his feeling after the loss) "Well, I never really felt we had the game under control. This is a very explosive team on the special teams and on the offense and so I never totally felt that feeling that we had the game in control. As I told the team, I was very, very disappointed. I am really disappointed for them because they worked extremely hard in the ball game. I told them before the game it was going to be like a heavyweight, fifteen-round, knock down, drag out fight and it was all of that and someone has to win and someone has to lose and we lost. But I am very disappointed for them because they worked so hard to win this football game and it didn't happen. Kansas City won the game; they deserved to win the game. They made the plays they had to in the end and we didn't. But I am disappointed for the football team."
(on defense) "I guess I have to look at the tape tomorrow and analyze that and be more worried or less worried based on what I see, but I'm not going to surmise right now where we are defensively. We certainly gave a lot of points today against a very explosive offense, more points than I thought we would. I'm obviously concerned, but I'll know more in the morning."
(on effectiveness of stopping Dante Hall) "He still made a couple of plays against us, but I thought (Ryan Longwell) kicked the ball extremely well. We know he kicked the ball out of bounds on the first one, but his second one that went out of bounds was a great kick, it just took a bad bounce. It hit where we wanted to hit and it just ended up bouncing out of bounds. I think overall we did a pretty decent job containing (Hall) and keeping him out of the end zone."
(on team responding to loss) "I have tremendous confidence in this football team. I believe in them and I think that we fought well. When you start the season - it's an old cliché - but it's like running a race. Each season, the goal is the same, but sometimes because of the talent or circumstances, you may slip here or you may have to get up or run here, but it's a long race. Right now we fell down and we've got to get back up, but the race still goes on and our players will continue to run and hopefully pick up more speed. We're coming into a place this week that's difficult to play in, but if we can respond to that challenge and maybe have a surge here and then see what happens. Really, it's how you measure it at the end of the game that really counts. I believe that these guys have the character that you need to run this type of race. There's going to be different obstacles you've got to go over, but the goal is the same as it always is."
(on Brett Favre's interception/performance) "I don't look at things like that. I look at his overall performance. I thought he played one heck of a ball game. One pass that deflects off of somebody's body for an interception certainly is a huge part of the game, but he had other plays that put us in position to win the game. So, no, I don't look at that game and say everything else is terrible - that one pass that wasn't exactly right on the body. No, I can't say that. I thought he played a very good ball game. I thought he showed great leadership and great emotion during the ball game."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Brett Favre: (on coming back after this loss compared to the Arizona loss) "We lost to a much better football team today. We played a hell of a lot better today than we did against Arizona. A lot of people wanted to see how we matched up against a 5-0 football team and I think they're legit. Now a 6-0 team, but as we said earlier the emotions were just, at one point you think you have it and then they are back in it like the interception they returned for a touchdown. It's just that it is tough. It's tough because we fought hard. Every guy out there, including Kansas City, left it all on the field. When that happens you can't blame anything on a lack of effort and I mean sometimes you can play as hard as you possibly can and the ball doesn't bounce your way. We played against a great football team today and it bounced their way and when you play a team like Kansas City and I think the next four or five weeks we're going to face teams like that, you have to do something special. We did some great things today but fell one shy."
(on the Chiefs offense) "Dante Hall is one piece of the puzzle. They have a very good quarterback, they've got a great tight end, and I don't know how many receivers they have that are explosive. They've got a great running back and their offensive line is one of the best; I think it's such an underrated offensive line. You hear talk about all these other offensive lines, but their guys are good.
(on the Packers offense) "Their defense, I know they gave up some points, but we've been averaging 28 a game. I think we're pretty damn good on offense. I'm not taking anything away from their defense. I think their defense is good. I think their scheme is good. We made plays and it wasn't easy. Our first two drives were touchdowns. We had a fourth down we converted and I hit Javon (Walker) on a huge third down. I think that on every pass on that drive that went over the middle, I never saw the guys catch it. There was pressure. I had to anticipate and make throws and guys made the catches. It wasn't easy, but they're 6-0 and they've played some good teams. It's hard to beat Green Bay in Green Bay. Minnesota did it, Atlanta did it last year, but I can name just a select few that have done it, especially when we're up by 17."
(on Packers offensive struggles late in game) "I don't know. Why did (Kansas City's) not do as well in the first half? We didn't make the plays after the pick went for a touchdown. It's that close from being tipped and hitting the ground and it's that close from being a reception and a first down. That's what this games all about. I'm not making excuses. We made some pretty damn good plays and the plays weren't there."
Running back Ahman Green: (on why they couldn't put the game away) "I don't know, there were a lot of reasons, I really can't put my finger on it right now, but we had penalties, the one turnover at the end, stuff like that you can say, but right now I can't really tell you honestly, because I haven't seen the film yet. We run the ball pretty good. We pass the ball OK, so you really got to look at film to see what was the big factor, if it was not scoring more points in the fourth quarter...don't know right now."
(on the feeling that the offense can only stop themselves) "I think with any team that's the biggest thing. You don't make mistakes on yourself or with yourself, then that makes it easier for you to play and makes it harder for a team to beat you. But when you're shooting yourself in the foot, that makes it a lot easier for the other team."
Tight end Wesley Walls: (on loss) "(Kansas City) is a good football team we played against today and we should have won the game. At the same time, that's why we play the 60 minutes. There's always something we can build on. We just have to look at the film and look at our mistakes and what we did well and be proud of that and come in and work next week."
(on individual performance) "I'm definitely getting more comfortable in finding my role and getting more comfortable with that role. This situation is different from any I've been in and I think it's just going to take time to get a better relationship with Brett and there's still some things I need to work on to get better and be a more viable part of the offense."
(on passing plays over the middle) "We had some plays that were well designed and worked perfectly and were well executed by us. Kansas City has a good defense. We have good receivers on the outside and that's going to open up the middle a lot for the tight end. We had opportunities today and made some plays."
Wide Receiver Antonio Freeman: (on losing lead) "We lead by 17 going into the fourth quarter and had momentum, statistics, the whole game in our hands and then (the game) just took a turn for the worse. We have to give (Kansas City) a lot of credit. A lot of teams would have just accepted a loss, but they kept fighting and kept believing in themselves. They eventually made it a game and ultimately won it. This is one of the tough ones."
Kick returner/wide receiver Antonio Chatman: (on role of special teams in today's game) "Both teams' special teams played alright today. Both teams did a pretty good job of stopping big returns today. I think both teams were stressing not allowing big returns and allowing good field position."
Safety Marques Anderson: (on losing lead) "They made big plays. Special teams made some big plays. They got good field position. We battled, but they made plays. Until we watch the film, that's all I know."
Running back Najeh Davenport: (on touchdown run) "I had a hole wide open. I just ran and got good blocking by the linemen. I was told before the play that I was going to get the ball and I ran it in."
-For the Packers, Sunday's overtime game was the 25th sudden death contest in Packers history. They have won 9, lost 11 and tied 4 in regular season play and have won the only overtime game they have played in the postseason, a 13-10 win over the Baltimore Colts in a 1965 Western Conference playoff (Dec. 26).
-The loss ended a four-game Packers winning streak in overtime. Their last loss in sudden death occurred on Dec. 10, 1995, when they were shaded by the Buccaneers, 13-10, in Tampa.
-The victory improved the Chiefs' regular season record against the Packers to 6-1-1.
-Bubba Franks, third on the team's all-time list for touchdown receptions by a tight end, posted the 19th of his career in the first quarter on a 1-yard strike from Brett Favre. He now is 6 behind Ed West, second on the team's career list with 25. Paul Coffman is the all-time leader with 39.
-Fellow tight end Wesley Walls, who had been hampered by a hamstring injury, took full advantage of his first substantial opportunity to contribute, making 4 catches for a team-leading 64 yards, including a 36-yarder which positioned the Packers for their second touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run by Ahman Green.
-With only six defensive linemen available after Joe Johnson left the game in the first quarter with a quadriceps injury, defensive tackle Rod Walker found himself playing end in the Packers' base defense.
-The Chiefs remain the only one of the 30 NFL teams Brett Favre has played against in his 13-year Packers career that he has not defeated. He now owns an 0-3 record against Kansas City.
-Favre, incidentally, threw a touchdown pass in a 15th consecutive game Sunday, tying Don Majkowski for the fourth-longest such streak in team history. Favre also owns two other, longer such streaks - one of 17 games and the other of 18 games. The club record is 22 consecutive games by the late Cecil Isbell (1941-42).
-With Tony Fisher forced to leave the game with a groin injury, Najeh Davenport provided Ahman Green with strong support in the running game, grinding out 43 yards in 6 attempts, a 7.2-yard average.
-Before giving up 3 passing touchdowns Sunday, the Packers had permitted only 1 TD by air in their previous four games.
-Punter Josh Bidwell, the last "line" of defense, twice tripped up the Chiefs' elusive Dante Hall on punt returns during Sunday's matchup.
-Ryan Longwell's first two kickoffs, kicked left and designed to keep the ball away from the Chiefs' highly dangerous Hall, eventually bounced out of bounds, giving the Chiefs field position at their own 40-yard line under the attached penalty.
Overall, the general strategy worked well, at least with respect to kickoff returns, Hall closing out the afternoon with a modest 13.5-yard average for KOR. He fared better, however, on punt returns, averaging 31-0 yards for 2 returns.
-GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman decided to "go for it" in a 4th-and-1 situation at the KC 41 in the first quarter and it paid off, Ahman Green barging over right tackle for 6 yards and a first down at the 35. Four plays later, Brett Favre hit tight end Bubba Franks with a 1-yard scoring strike in the left corner of the end zone.
-Quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Robert Ferguson (offense), cornerback Mike McKenzie and linebacker Nick Barnett (defense) and cornerback Bhawoh Jue (special teams) were Packers captains for Sunday's game.
-Packers inactives were offensive tackles Brennan Curtin and Marcus Spriggs, fullback Nick Luchey, defensive linemen Aaron Kampman, Chukie Nwokorie and Larry Smith, safety Antuan Edwards and Designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.
-James Lofton, enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 4, was presented his HOF ring by John Bankert, executive director of the Hall of Fame, during a halftime ceremony. Lofton's wife, Beverly, and their three children, David, Daniel and Rachel, were on the field with Lofton to share in the moment.
-George McClintock of Glasgow, Scotland, named "Fan of the Year" by the NFL Europe League's Scottish Claymores, was in Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon to see his favorite team, the Packers in action. McClintock was the winner of a 40-hour round trip of approximately 10,000 miles.