Five things that stood out about the Chiefs’ loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field

The Chiefs are no longer in control of their postseason path.

There are a lot of things to take away from a 27-19 loss in Green Bay on Sunday Night Football — and we’re going to delve into five of them soon — but the effect is the primary.

The Chiefs had a chance to secure the top spot in the AFC and, instead, with just five weeks to play, they’ll be in an unfamiliar spot.

That of the hunter.

How? Why? Well, let’s get to the observations from immediately after the game:

1. The fourth-quarter mistakes

Patrick Mahomes played well Sunday. Ignore the total numbers. You’ll need to focus on a per-play basis, given how little the Chiefs possessed the ball. The defense can take responsibility for that. More on that soon. But Mahomes was good.

And then the fourth quarter arrived.

And with it, an all-too-familiar topic: Missed connections with wide receivers.

Two were their fault. Put the final one on somebody else.

I’ll start with the conclusion, because it’s probably the one you’re talking about it. Marquez Valdes-Scantling got absolutely and blatantly mugged on the deep shot on the Chiefs’ final drive.

And, well, no flag.

You’re wondering how. I don’t have an answer. Let’s move on to the things the Chiefs could control, because that controversial call (and that’s being kind) is only part of the fourth-quarter problem.

Mahomes tried to hit Valdes-Scantling on a downfield shot earlier in the quarter, but while Mahomes saw space outside the numbers, Valdes-Scantling kept pushing on the seam route. Mahomes is 3-for-10 when targeting Valdes-Scantling on passes over 20 yards this season.

The next miss? Someone got on the other end of it — but it was Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon.

Of course, it was made easier for him that Skyy Moore just plain didn’t fight for the ball in the air, but it’s one of those plays where we’ll need more information to know exactly how the play was supposed to unfold.

And how often have we said that?

2. The rather busy fourth down play

The fourth-down snap was, quite obviously, a critical one, and there was a lot going on there: Chiefs edge rusher Mike Danna took a hand to the face. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo called an all-out blitz, which left linebacker Jack Cochrane guarding wide receiver Romeo Doubs. And that’s where Jordan Love went with his throw — a prayer that sailed in the air like a punt before landing in Doubs’ arms.

But the key aspect of the play? The decision. Packers coach Matt LaFleur left his offense on the field. And he was aptly rewarded with seven points — turning a two-point lead into a two-possession lead.

We’ll focus on the lack of a defensive pass interference call a lot. This was the game’s most impactful play.

3. The defensive trend

It’s not just that the defense has been good this year.

It’s how consistently good it’s been.

Until recently.

The Chiefs had not allowed 330-plus yards in consecutive games all season.

No longer.

A week after the Raiders gained 358 yards on the Chiefs defense, the Packers gained 382. Which is the antithesis of a Steve Spagnuolo defense that typically trends better late in the season than early.

Those are two of the three-worst defensive outings, from a total yards standpoint, this season.

And it’s started on the opening drives. The Chiefs allowed only one opening-drive touchdown in the first 10 weeks of the season. They’ve allowed back-to-back teams (the Raiders and Packers) to travel 75 yards for touchdowns on their first possessions.

4. Pacheco as a solution?

An offense that employs Patrick Mahomes has turned to its running game for solutions.

To two problems.

Deep shell defenses.

And short yardage woes.

With the Packers content to prevent the downfield passing game – what’s new? — the Chiefs asked Pacheco to carry more of the load. He finished wiht 18 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Oh, and an ejection.

But for the second straight week, he was part of the reply to the short-yardage. The Chiefs converted third-and-short three times — a Pacheco run between the tackles, a Clyde Edwards-Helaire run between the tackles and a quick throw to Noah Gray.

5. The Chiefs’ injuries

Five starters left the game due to injury. And while a couple would return, I do want to mention the impact of those who did not: Drue Tranquill, who left during the opening drive after taking a knee to the head, and Bryan Cook, who appeared to injure his ankle in the third quarter.

The Chiefs are better defensively for a lot of reasons this season, but if you pinned me to just one, I’d answer quickly.


Tranquill would be my lead example.

He’s played well in his first season in Kansas City, and he’s actually not even the intended starter. He’s still a replacement for the injured Nick Bolton.

That depth is being tested.

Tranquill was replaced by Jack Cochrane, who had played 35 career defensive snaps.

Cook was replaced by Mike Edwards, who, like Tranquill, was brought in for depth.

While some clamored for some high-profile additions, particularly on offense, the Chiefs spent the offseason ensuring they could survive a key injury.

But surviving two at the same position? It’s a hit to the strength of the unit.