GREEN BAY – The Packers defense played about as well as it could for 2 ½ quarters on Monday night.
Combine that with a Green Bay offense clicking at a pretty good clip and the Packers gave themselves plenty of breathing room in holding on for a 38-28 victory over Kansas City at Lambeau Field.
“Our thing is to get off the field and give them the ball,” cornerback Sam Shields said, referring to the Packers offense. “You’ve seen what happened.”
The defense set the tone, forcing three straight three-and-outs by the Chiefs in the first quarter. One big play led to a touchdown, but then three more three-and-outs in the second and third quarters preceded an interception by Shields deep in Kansas City territory.
That set up a score for a 31-7 lead with 7:18 left in the third quarter. At that point, the Chiefs had just 89 yards of offense – 45 of them on a meaningless garbage drive that killed the final minute of the first half – and seven first downs while the Packers were on their way to racking up seven sacks and holding breakaway runner Jamaal Charles to just 49 rushing yards.
“We catch a lot of flak for our run defense, so we come out with an attitude we want to shut some of the best backs in the league down,” said veteran defender Julius Peppers, one of the few pass rushers to not get in on the sack attack. “We just want to show everybody we can stop the run.”
That makes two straight games, following last week’s effort against Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. Charles scored three rushing touchdowns by the end of the night, but he had no run longer than 13 yards, a worthy accomplishment.
In addition to the sacks, the Packers also made several tackles in the backfield on runs or swing passes, a staple play in Chiefs QB Alex Smith’s arsenal.
It was clear when Mike Daniels buried Charles for a 3-yard loss on his third carry of the game that the defense came to play, and the unit didn’t lose any intensity until late in the third quarter with a big lead.
“We prepare very well, and that just brings about confidence, and when you’re confident you can bring a little something extra to the table, and that’s where the energy comes from,” said Daniels, who also had 1 ½ sacks.
“We’re moving in the right direction, and this is the most energetic I’ve seen the defense. It’s an everyday thing.”
Clay Matthews also got back to roving around and playing different spots. Newcomer Joe Thomas took some snaps at inside linebacker in the dime defense, allowing Matthews to get some turns rushing off the edge.
Thomas got his first career sack (as did Jayrone Elliott) while Matthews got his first two of the season.
“It was fun getting after them tonight,” Matthews said.
The Chiefs put together three touchdown drives over the game’s final quarter and a half, but stopping a two-point conversion try with 1:25 left in the game kept the margin at two scores.
The finish left something to be desired defensively, but it was the fourth-quarter defense that carried the day in Green Bay’s first two wins this season. The prevailing attitude amongst the players is that it’s coming together, with a long haul yet to go.
“To get these wins, hopefully it means something toward the latter part of the season, when we continue to get stronger and gel,” Matthews said. “That’s the game plan. Hopefully we’ll be in a good spot come January.”
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