KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers did all they could defensively to help out Jordan Love in his first career start.
Too bad for Love their special teams weren’t on board.
In fact, they were so bad in a 13-7 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday it almost seemed as if they were trying to sabotage the backup quarterback, who was forced to start when Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
There was the 40-yarder that Mason Crosby, their erstwhile sure-footed kicker, missed late in the first quarter that would have made it a 7-3 game. And the 37-yard attempt by Crosby that Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor swatted away early in the second.
There was the punt that bounced off downfield blocker Malik Taylor just before halftime, which Kansas City recovered and turned into an easy field goal. And another punt early in the third quarter that Amari Rodgers muffed but was fortunate to recover himself.
Rodgers would have struggled just as much as Love to overcome that mess.
In fact, the two missed field goals proved to be the difference in the final score.
Not that Love did much to make Green Bay brass feel good about spending a first-round pick on him last year.
He was 19 of 34 for 190 yards with a touchdown in the closing minutes, which at least gave Green Bay (7-2) a chance to keep its seven-game winning streak alive. But he also threw an interception near the Kansas City goal line a few minutes earlier, another mistake that cost the Packers a chance to escape Arrowhead Stadium with a win.
The performance puts the Packers in quite a predicament.
Rodgers did little to endear himself to the organization, its fans and the rest of the league this week when it came out that he was unvaccinated — despite claiming to be “immunized” against COVID-19 earlier in the year. And his loose adherence to NFL rules for unvaccinated players means there could be additional punishment coming down the line.
Then there’s the fact that Rodgers must test negative to return by Saturday at the earliest. That means a tight window for him to return against Seattle next week; otherwise, Love would get his second career start.
At least the Packers’ defense did what it could against Kansas City to help him out.
They held Patrick Mahomes to 20-of-37 passing for 166 yards, and the high-flying Chiefs offense to 237 yards in all. They stuffed them on fourth-and-1 in the first half to force a turnover, held on third-and-goal at the Green Bay 4 to force a field goal later in the half, and forced a punt on third-and-1 late in the third quarter.
It was the kind of performance that — at least with Rodgers under center — usually nets the Packers a win.
It wasn’t enough to overcome all the other problems on Sunday.