With 2 minutes remaining, quarterback Aaron Rodgers had thrown for 297 yards and running back Aaron Jones had 218 total yards.
They needed 5 more yards to clinch the Green Bay Packers’ 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and got it, with Rodgers connecting with Jones for a gain of 8 on third down. The Packers ran out the clock from there to improve to 7-1 under first-year coach Matt LaFleur and beat the watered-down Chiefs, who were down six starters – including MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Dustin Colquitt’s punt pinned the Packers at the 2 with 5:04 remaining. That put Green Bay’s running game in do-or-die mode. Three consecutive runs by Jones picked up the first of the necessary first downs, and two more runs by Jones moved the chains again. On third-and-5 with 2 minutes remaining, the Packers went with an empty set. With LaFleur citing the "total trust" in his quarterback, Rodgers fired a pass in the right flat to Jones against linebacker Ben Niemann to improve to 3-0 on the road and 4-0 without star receiver Davante Adams.
Rodgers threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns – two to Jones and one to fellow running back Jamaal Williams. Jones had 159 receiving yards – more than half of Rodgers’ total. His 67-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter was the decisive score.
Even without Mahomes, the Packers had all sorts of problems handling the Chiefs' offense but limited them to 105 yards in the second half. Defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster's strip and recovery was the pivotal moment, LaFleur said, with that play positioning the Packers to take a 24-17 lead.
Here are our updates, in chronological order.
Davante Adams will miss a fourth consecutive game with a turf-toe injury. Adams caught some passes at Friday’s practice but was listed as doubtful. Also out for Green Bay: receiver Ryan Grant, cornerback Ka’Dar Hollman, offensive linemen Cole Madison and Adam Pankey, tight end Robert Tonyan (hip) and outside linebacker Tim Williams.
Safety Darnell Savage, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, is back in the starting lineup. Also active is inside linebacker and leading tackler Blake Martinez, who was added to the list as questionable (hand/wrist).
The Packers are as fit as a fiddle in comparison to the Chiefs. Kansas City’s inactives list includes six starters: quarterback Patrick Mahomes, defensive end Frank Clark, defensive tackle Chris Jones, slot corner Kendall Fuller, left tackle Eric Fisher and left guard Andrew Wylie. All six were ruled out by coach Andy Reid on Friday. Greg Senat is the other inactive.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and NBC play-by-play man Mike Tirico had a lengthy conversation. You can see the whole interview at NBCSports.com but here’s an excerpt.
Tirico: “There's joy in that locker room. When's the last time you felt that kind of energy around you and what you're doing?”
Rodgers: “We just really enjoy each other. This is one of the closest teams we’ve had and definitely one of the closest teams that we’ve had in a long time. It’s just a new energy, there’s an excitement. Guys are having fun.”
Tirico: “I thought it was cool (last week) when Matt LaFleur said, ‘Hey, the old man even ran one in.’ It was just kind of a really neat moment…How has that relationship with your new coach grown?”
Rodgers: “It's been great. I think a lot of people wanted to write about stuff or make conjectures about how it was going to be. And those opinions never affected our relationship...We laughed all along the way, and we had a lot of fun with it. And, you know, he's got to be careful of ‘old man’ because he's only about four years older than I am.”
Tirico: “What does the challenge of a new chapter in your football career do for somebody at this point in your life?”
Rodgers: “Well, I think it can make you a little bitter or it can make you better. And I think it's helped me to get better in a number of areas.”
Packers 7, Chiefs 0. 8:43 remaining
Score: Aaron Rodgers’ shovel pass to an on-the-move Aaron Jones resulted in a 4-yard touchdown. Running back Jamaal Williams and receiver Allen Lazard delivered key blocks at the goal line.
Key plays: On third-and-9, Rodgers extended the play to his right and hit receiver Jake Kumerow for a gain of 34 to the Chiefs’ 11. Kumerow made a tumbling catch against safety Daniel Sorensen. The play withstood a replay challenge by Chiefs coach Andy Reid. After a holding penalty on left tackle David Bakhtiari nullified a touchdown run by Jones, Rodgers hit Jones, who was left uncovered over the middle, for a gain of 17 to make it second-and-3 at the 4.
Packers 7, Chiefs 0. 4:11 remaining
The Packers’ defense made a big stand. Green Bay’s second possession ended with Aaron Rodgers being sacked at the 4 – a 17-yard loss – and Chiefs rookie receiver Mecole Hardman returning the punt 18 yards to the Packers’ 30. However, a first-down incompletion, a second-down completion for minus-2 on a tackle by Kyler Fackrell and a third-down incompletion on a late rush by Kenny Clark forced a 50-yard field goal. Harrison Butker’s kick drifted wide left.
Packers 14, Chiefs 0. 2:09 remaining
The score: Jamaal Williams followed a crunching lead block by fullback Danny Vitale for a 1-yard touchdown.
Key play: Starting at the 40 following a missed field goal, Aaron Rodgers went out of an empty set on second-and-10. Aaron Jones was wide open against linebacker Anthony Hitchens for what should have been a 60-yard touchdown. Instead, on a booth review, Jones stepped out of bounds at the 10. No worries. Rodgers hit Allen Lazard for a gain of 9 to set up the score.
Packers 14, Chiefs 7. 10:55 remaining
The score: Matt Moore hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 29-yard touchdown. Just as he was about to get hit by outside linebacker Rashan Gary, Moore lofted a pass to Kelce, who was wide open against linebacker Blake Martinez for an easy touchdown.
Key play: On third-and-12, Moore hit receiver Tyreek Hill for a gain of 14 against Tramon Williams. That was the second of three third-down conversions on the drive.
Packers 14, Chiefs 14. 6:21 remaining
The score: The Packers took a 7-0 lead on a flip to Aaron Jones, and the Chiefs tied the score at 14 on a similar play. Rookie receiver Mecole Hardman motioned to the left, quarterback Matt Moore flipped it to him on the run and Hardman did the rest. With a convoy of blockers, Hardman ran through a diving tackle attempt by Kevin King at the 21.
Key play: On third-and-7, Moore threw a short pass to Sammy Watkins, who circled back and got a series of blocks to get him past the first-down marker.
Chiefs 17, Packers 14. 56 seconds remaining
The score: Harrison Butker booted a 28-yard field goal.
Key plays: Matt Moore hit Tyreek Hill for a gain of 21 to midfield. On the next play, Moore threw a pass in the flat to the Chiefs’ other speedster receiver, rookie Mecole Hardman, who stepped through a tackle by safety Darnell Savage at the line of scrimmage and gained 25 to the 25. The defense stiffened, though, with defensive tackle Montravius Adams swatting down a second-down pass and a big rush by outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell forcing a third-down incompletion.
The Chiefs rallied from a 14-0 deficit to lead 17-14 at halftime. With Chiefs coach Andy Reid calling a dizzying barrage of fakes and misdirections, backup quarterback Matt Moore – who was coaching at his high school alma mater at this time last year – threw for a personal-best 174 yards in the second quarter.
Making matters worse for Green Bay: Star running back Aaron Jones missed the end of the first half with a shoulder injury and the Chiefs will get the ball to start the second half.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 163 yards in the first half but was sacked three times. That snapped Green Bay’s streak of six consecutive games of giving up two sacks or less. Rodgers had been sacked seven times the past six games.
The Chiefs outgained the Packers 188-26 in the second quarter, despite having a backup at quarterback and three starters inactive on defense.
Packers 17, Chiefs 17. 1:31 remaining.
The score: Mason Crosby kicked a 35-yard field goal.
Key play: The Packers methodically drove down the field to get a first-and-goal at the 6. However, a delay-of-game penalty on first down was too much to overcome. On third down at the 7, Emmanuel Ogbah beat right tackle Bryan Bulaga for a sack. Bulaga entered the game having not allowed a sack all season. With that, the Packers had to settle for three points following a 15-yard drive.
Packers 24, Chiefs 17. 13:57 remaining.
The score: Aaron Rodgers threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jamaal Williams, a description that doesn’t do the play justice. With Emmanuel Ogbah and Derrick Nnadi bearing down on Rodgers, Rodgers threw the ball to the corner of the end zone. The ball couldn’t have been placed any better, with Williams making the grab against linebacker Ben Niemann.
Key plays: After Green Bay tied the game at 17, defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster stripped running back LeSean McCoy, with the ball bouncing back to Lancaster for the recovery at the Chiefs’ 27. On the final play of the third quarter, Rodgers took the shotgun snap and simply ran around right end to the 12. After almost throwing an interception to start the fourth quarter, Rodgers scrambled for 9. On third-and-1, Rodgers threw the touchdown to Williams.
Packers 24, Chiefs 24. 9:01 remaining.
The score: Damien Williams ran through an arm-tackle attempt by Tyler Lancaster and waltzed into the end zone to tie the score.
Key plays: Quarterback Matt Moore connected with Sammy Watkins for gains of 26 and 10 yards. On third-and-goal from the 7, Moore’s pass went through the fingertips of tight end Travis Kelce and the hands of safety Darnell Savage for an incompletion. However, defensive back Tramon Williams was flagged for hands to the face, giving the Chiefs the first down necessary to tie the game.
Packers 31, Chiefs 24. 8:02 remaining
The score: Aaron Rodgers threw a short pass to Aaron Jones and Jones did the rest, getting blocks from tight end Jimmy Graham, left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley to spring him on a 67-yard touchdown. Sixty-nine of those came after the catch.
Key play: The touchdown came on second-and-2. Jones has six catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns.