Sunday Night Football: Love Leads Packers to Win over Chiefs
Jordan Love, the Packers' suddenly improving quarterback, threw three touchdown passes, and Green Bay's resilient defense turned away a last-minute drive my the Chiefs to get a surprising and impressive victory.
After a late Green Bay field goal made it 27-19, Patrick Mahomes drove the Chiefs into Packers territory — aided greatly by a controversial official review that wiped out a fumble return for a Green Bay touchdown— but the quarterback's last-gasp toss into the end zone from 33 yards away fell incomplete as the clock expired.
Statistically, this was a fairly even game. Both teams played mostly error-free football. But the same issues that bedeviled the Chiefs’ hallowed offense Weeks 1 through 12 — specifically, the red-zone offense — made their presence felt from the get-go. Once inside Green Bay's 20, the KC attack sputtered. On the Chiefs' opening drive, Mahomes was sacked twice, forcing Kansas City to settle for a field goal.
Leading 7-3, the Packers took their second drive, starting the second quarter, and got their second touchdown — a nine-yard strike from Love to Christian Watson. That the made the score 14-3 and the Packers, especially Love and the offense, were rolling.
On the next Chiefs possession, KC drove deep into Green Bay territory, only for the Pack to again sack Mahomes on third down in the red zone, forcing another field goal to make it 14-6.
In the third quarter, both offenses found their stride.
The Chiefs took the opening kickoff of the second half 75 yards on nine plays, with Isiah Pacheco punching it in from one-yard out. Green Bay led 14-12 after the Chiefs failed on the the two-point conversion. The Packers responded. A 33-yard Love to Romeo Doubs on 4th-and-1 from midfield set up Watson’s second score of the night — a spectacular leaping 12-yard catch against tight coverage — to make it a two-possession game.
Watson led the Packers with seven catches and gained 71 yards receiving.
Back came the Chiefs, led by Pacheco, who carried seven times for 40 yards on a scoring drive finished off when Mahomes found Noah Gray from two yards out.
After placekicker Anders Carlson extended the lead with a 40-yard field goal, the Green Bay defense came up big, intercepting Mahomes in Packers terrifory. Love and the offense converted that turnover into Carlson’s second field gaol and the late eight-point lead.
Love threw for 263 yards, in addition to the three scores, but it is the poise and confidence he now plays with that the stats do not seem to fully capture. The quarterback, whose awful midseason slump prompted many observers to number his days in Green Bay, is now emerging as one of the great late-season stories of 2023.
Next up for the Packers for the Giants, Buccaneers and Panthers. All very winnable games. A 9-6 Green Bay team was unthinkable a month ago. Now, Packers fans will be disappointed if they fall short of that 15-week mark.
The Chiefs (8-4) are on the verge of failing to secure home field throughout the playoffs for the first time in the Mahomes era. For the defending champions, they are still missing a piece the puzzle, and it does not look like Taylor Swift or State Farm — or all the other outside distractions linked to this team — have any answers right now.