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Chiefs-Packers Instabreakdown: Matt Moore and Chiefs defense hang tough

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An injury-ridden roster doesn’t quite have enough to best the Green Bay Packers

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 24, Green Bay Packers 31

An injury-riddled Chiefs team put up a valiant effort against the Packers, but the Chiefs linebackers in coverage, a fumble and a poor punt earned Kansas City a loss on Sunday Night Football.

Offense

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Reid’s plan this week was simple: stretch the defense horizontally and utilize the Chiefs’ superior speed. Jet sweeps, touch passes, tunnel and bubble screens — Reid dialed up a fantastic game plan for most of the evening. Reid did have a questionable punt call on a fourth-and-3 from the 40-yard line with five minutes left to go in the game. Green Bay was able to run out the clock from there and ice the game against an exhausted defense.

Matt Moore had an early third-down conversion to Sammy Watkins, but upon review it was overturned, ending the Chiefs’ first drive; a lack of urgency on the next play resulted in plenty of time for Green Bay to challenge and overturn. The next drive was poor, with Moore missing Watkins and Tyreek Hill badly. Moore got in a groove with RPO’s in the third drive of the game, hitting Hill and Travis Kelce to get out of negative yardage. A third-and-12 dart to Hill across the middle for first-down yardage was easily his best pass early. A faked end-around to Hill allowed Moore a wide-open throw to Kelce for a touchdown.

Moore looked better and better as the second quarter moved along — hitting Hill and Watkins and making some key reads in the Chiefs second scoring drive. In the fourth quarter, Moore looked comfortable in the pocket. He dialed up quick passes and found the open man to keep a crucial drive going and give the defense a breather.

LeSean McCoy was the first man up at running back for the Chiefs, rattling off rushes of two and five yards. McCoy picked up chunk yardage again on the Chiefs third drive of the game, setting up Darrell Williams for a third down conversion. McCoy got involved in the passing game late in the first half, working the ball into the red zone through the air. He continued to get the bulk of the work early in the third quarter, moving the Chiefs offense to midfield. McCoy then fumbled deep in Kansas City territory, putting the defense in a difficult position.

After McCoy’s fumble, Damien Williams got his shot in the running game. Eight and nine-yard first-down runs helped keep the Chiefs ahead of the sticks in the fourth quarter. Williams had some tough runs throughout the drive and got the call on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line. An off-tackle run to the left hit paydirt and tied the game at 24.

Through most of the beginning of the game, Kelce was asked to help chip blockers, but did well on a nice pitch-and-catch and made three different tacklers miss. This led to Kelce selling a block and leaking out to the flat before locating the ball for the Chiefs’ first touchdown. Watkins dropped an easy first-down pass to start the Chiefs fifth drive of the game, but came back with a third-down conversion — with a key block from Darwin Thompson. Hill found himself open late in the first half on a double move, jawing with cornerback Kevin King after an 18-yard gain.

A Mecole Hardman touch pass found the receiver in space, and he was able to utilize his speed to level the score at 14 in the second quarter. A swing pass once again put Hardman in space with blockers ahead him for a 25-yard play just before the two minute warning. Watkins was clutch in the fourth quarter, coming up with two big drive-extending plays to get the Chiefs into the red zone.

In the third drive, Cameron Erving was beaten by Za’darius Smith’s speed up the arc — not the way he’s typically been beaten this year. He rebounded fairly well through the rest of the first half — and Moore was able to get more comfortable in the pocket.

Andy Reid left quite a few chipping blockers in during the game, letting Damien Williams and Anthony Sherman help the Chiefs offensive line. Smith registered another sack lined up on the inside, beating left guard Martinas Rankin. Late in the game, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif went down. he was replaced by Stefen Wisinewski.

Defense

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs defensive line looked active early, with Derrick Nnadi coming up with an early run stop, holding his gap well while moving laterally. Tanoh Kpassagnon made a fantastic move on the inside during the second drive, coming up with a 17-yard sack on third down. Kpassagnon once again found himself bringing down Rodgers on the Packers Hail Mary attempt to end the half. Emmanuel Ogbah got in on the sack party in the third quarter, coming up with a third-down sack in the red zone to force a field goal.

After being put up against a short field due to the McCoy fumble, rookie Khalen Saunders was able to tally his first sack.

In the base defense, the Chiefs linebackers started with Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, and Reggie Ragland. Wilson had an early run stop, but then a gave up a big pass underneath on a first-and-20. He came back the next drive, lighting up Jamaal Williams in the flat to set up a third down. Wilson once again had a good/bad sequence of plays, getting penalized for a late hit before coming up with a sack on the fourth drive. Hitchens got torched by a sluggo route from Aaron Jones out of an empty formation for a 50-yard pass in the third drive.

Wilson continued to be used as a blitzer as the first half went along, with Spagnuolo dialing up some fantastic pressure to force Rodgers off his spot. Wilson came up with a fantastic pressure on third-and-3 to force a bad throw and force a stop. Ragland made his presence felt in the third quarter, scraping behind Nnadi to blow up the running back for no gain. Ben Niemann was late to get downhill on a third-and-long, allowing tight end Jimmy Graham to convert the first down. Niemann was then victimized on Green Bay’s third touchdown of the day; he got his hand on the ball but was unable to knock it loose.

Late in the game, the Packers went back to their bread-and-butter again, going to an empty set with Hitchens matched up on Jones. A single block from Graham on Hitchens blew a play wide open, allowing a quick 67-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Charvarius Ward got targeted early, and he wasn’t able to locate the ball on a 14-yard pass to Jake Kumerow on the first drive. Targeted again, he was stuck in the mud and didn’t play the ball on an interceptable pass. Rashad Fenton was late to break on a speed out from Allen Lazard in a first-and-goal situation, setting up an easy 1-yard touchdown run on the next play. Bashaud Breeland read a route well and should have had an interception during the second quarter, but landed hard on his shoulder and came off the field for a while.

Ward came up with a great stop in the third quarter out of a Cover 2 zone, breaking quickly on the flat. He followed that play with a deep pass breakup.

Special Teams

Mecole Hardman got the reps as the primary punt and kick returner this week. An 18-yard punt return and a 33-yard kick return were some of the best plays for the Chiefs early in the game. Darwin Thompson got some chances as the Chiefs kick returner in the second half.