Sports

Against backup QB Jordan Love, KC Chiefs NFL defense soars


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Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones gestures to fans in the first quarter of the Chiefs game against the Green Bay Packers at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.

jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

On a day when the offense struggled — again — the Chiefs took advantage of the Packers’ vulnerability in a 13-7 victory at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

The Chiefs pinned their ears back and went after Packers quarterback Jordan Love, who was making his career start. Love was playing for Aaron Rodgers, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in the week.

“We did a nice job against the passing game, pressuring the quarterback,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We didn’t hold back, guys played hard and aggressive.”

The Chiefs went after the inexperienced quarterback in a big way, constantly bringing blitzes. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Love was held to 6 of 17 passes for 30 yards against the blitz.

When the Chiefs didn’t blitz, he was 13 of 17 for 160 yards.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur tipped his cap to the Chiefs’ defense and coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

“This one falls squarely on me,” LaFleur said. “Obviously we didn’t have a good enough play for some of the zero pressures.”

The Chiefs held the Packers scoreless through three quarters while building a 13-0 lead. Green Bay finally broke through in the fourth quarter with Love’s touchdown pass to Allen Lazard with 4:54 remaining.

The Packers never got the ball back as Patrick Mahomes tossed first-down passes to Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill.

But credit for this Chiefs victory goes mostly to KC’s special teams, which blocked a field goal, recovered a muffed punt and got an average of 57 yards from Tommy Townsend’s six punts.

And the defense, which has steadily improved over the past couple of weeks. A good place to start is turnover margin. L’Jarius Sneed collected his first interception this season and the Chiefs recovered a muffed punt return.

The Chiefs didn’t commit a turnover, and It’s the first time since their opening-game victory over the Browns that the Chiefs held an advantage in that category.

The level of competition has to be considered. Last week, the Chiefs defeated the New York Giants 20-17.

This time it was a Packers team that entered the day with the NFC’s best record (7-1 before the game, 7-2 now), but was playing without Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP.

The Chiefs looked to improve their pass rush last week by trading for defensive end Melvin Ingram. He was credited with a tackle and pressured Love into an incompletion to end the Packers’ first series.

Adding Ingram allowed the Chiefs to move Chris Jones to tackle, his more natural position, and he came up with two quarterback hurries. Frank Clark was credited with three from his defensive end position.

“We were getting back to what we know best,” Clark said. “Chris moving back to that three tech, him being dominant in there, me on the edge. It all just works hand in hand.”

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Blair Kerkhoff has covered sports for The Kansas City Star since 1989.





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