KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs face a short week of preparation for the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals, but quarterback Alex Smith said after losing Monday night to Green Bay that his team needs to spend extra time solving their problems one player at a time.
"I think the bottom line is after a game like that we all have to look in the mirror and find a way to right this," Smith said after falling 38-28 to the Packers. "There's a lot of football left and certainly it's a big one this weekend (in Cincinnati)."
The Bengals stand between the Chiefs and at least a .500 record for the first quarter of the schedule. This was not the scenario that head coach Andy Reid envisioned for his team at the start of the season. They went 4-0 over the preseason schedule and showed good development in training camp. But they showed in game No. 2 that they were not quite up to the standard set in the AFC West by Denver over the last four years. They blew a 14-point lead in that game before losing in the game's final minute on a fumble by running back Jamaal Charles that the Broncos returned for the winning touchdown.
The loss to the Packers only cemented their spot behind the Broncos; after just three weeks of the season, they are already two games behind before heading to Cincinnati. They got behind 14-0 on the road and unlike Denver that was able to stage a comeback and win the game, the Chiefs were unable to overcome that margin.
Charles scored three times against a Packers defense that kept him bottled up for most of the game as a runner and receiver. He felt the Chiefs were not energized enough in the first part of the game.
"Going out for the first quarter, we didn't have enough energy," said Charles. "Then, we picked it up in the second half. There were a lot of people trying to motivate. Next week we have to come out and be very energized and ready to play."
Veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson agreed with Charles' assessment of the Chiefs' persona starting the night at Lambeau Field.
"We came out flat for whatever reason," said Johnson. "You can't come to Green Bay and come out flat with Aaron Rodgers on their side. I speak for the defense, and we gave up a lot of stuff today so we have to go back and look in the mirror and make sure we have a gut check and make sure we're doing our part. That starts with myself."
Flat for a game against the Packers coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Denver? That hardly makes sense and might explain why the person in the building most out of sorts about the 1-2 start is Reid. Normally, the head coach handles his minimal duties with the media each week with detachment and usually a taste of humor. But that was missing in the week leading up to the game in Green Bay, and it was worse after losing to the Packers. In the shortest postgame press conference of his time in Kansas City, Reid spoke for just over two minutes. Throughout the conversation with the media, he blamed himself for the team's poor performance and tried to push focus forward to the game against the Bengals.
"It's my responsibility, the whole thing here, offensively and defensively; it's my fault," Reid said. "We have to do a better job and that starts with me. We had plenty of time to get ourselves ready, so that's my responsibility to make sure we get there. We have a short week and we are on to Cincinnati."
What may have Reid perturbed is the way his team has played in the last two weeks. The Chiefs sunk their chances of victory in Green Bay due to a host of mistakes that were also detrimental in their loss 12 days before to Denver. There was an interception thrown by Smith, who now has three on the season; Smith threw six interceptions in 15 games last season. There were seven penalties walked off against K.C., including several where Rodgers took advantage of free shots down the field including one of his touchdown passes.
Smith was sacked seven times, as they had a tough time handling not only Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews (two sacks), but defensive tackle Mike Daniels (1.5). They converted just two of 10 third-down plays and on the season they are now just five of 30 on those conversions. Over the game's first 37 minutes, the Chiefs had little in the way of offensive yards, sitting at 88 yards on 28 plays. They finished with 326 yards thanks to a strong fourth quarter against a Green Bay defense playing soft, prevent coverage.
"We didn't play good today and it showed," said Johnson. "It's still early and we're not in panic mode. But if we want to do good down the stretch, we're going to have to play a lot better against really good teams."
They have five days to get ready for another good team and a lot of work to do.
--Linebacker Derrick Johnson waited a long time to become the leading tackler in Chiefs history. He thought it would happen last season, but then he missed 15 games due to a ruptured Achilles. It did not come in the first two games of the 2015 season and that was a disappointment. When the record finally came, Johnson was in no mood to celebrate after a Monday night loss to the Packers in Green Bay.
The tackle came in the second half of the 38-28 defeat, and he finished as the game's leading tackler with eight stops. That gives him 1,003 tackles over his 11-season career.
"When you're playing you don't even think about the tackle record," Johnson said. "I've been playing a while and having some good luck and I'm very fortunate to have a chance to break it this year. But right now it's bittersweet."
With those tackles, Johnson passed former Chiefs linebacker Gary Spani, who collected 999 stops in nine seasons with the club (1978-86.) But what Johnson wanted more than the record was a second victory of the season for the Chiefs.
"We got in a hole early and if you get in a hole early against that kind of team you don't give yourself a very good chance to win," said Johnson. "I don't want to give any excuses. Some people might say last week's game (a loss to Denver) took a lot out of us, but we knew it was going to be hard coming into Green Bay to beat them. We knew it was doable, but we have to get better. We didn't play good. Our standards are very high and Andy Reid, he set the standard high today and it wasn't a good example of how high our standards are."
--The last time it happened was on January 4, 2014 in the AFC playoffs at Lucas Oil Stadium. That's when quarterback Alex Smith hooked up with wide receiver Donnie Avery on a 79-yard touchdown play in the second quarter. What followed was 18 games where a Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver did not catch a touchdown pass. That dubious statistic finally died at Lambeau Field in the Monday night game against Green Bay when quarterback Alex Smith and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin connected on a 5-yard score in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Packers.
"The one positive," Smith said of the Maclin score. "It is nice to get the ball in his hands and get him in the end zone. We won't have to deal with the receiver talk anymore."
Maclin's 141-yard night was the best receiving yardage game by a Chiefs wideout since Dwayne Bowe had 150 yards against Indianapolis in that postseason game. In this season's first two games, Maclin caught nine passes for 109 yards. He about doubled all those numbers with his eight catches for 141 yards against the Packers.
Individually it was a good night for Maclin, especially after he finished the first half without a catch. But it wasn't enough to produce a victory for the Chiefs.
"Someone had to step up and make a play," said Maclin. "I feel like we picked it up too late. I had a chance (to make a play) in the third quarter and I kind of backed up to catch the ball and I dropped it. You look at stuff like that; a chance to get things going, so I don't think we did that enough today."
REPORT CARD VS. PACKERS
--PASSING OFFENSE: D. Through most of the game, the Chiefs' pass offense was ineffective against the Packers' defense due to very poor pass protection. Quarterback Alex Smith was sacked seven times on 47 passing plays. They struggled at every spot on the offensive line, including left guard Ben Grubbs who had been solid in the season's first two games. Smith also threw his third interception in three games; he had six in 15 games last season. The Chiefs did have their first touchdown pass from a wide receiver since the 2013 playoffs.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: D. Jamaal Charles scored three touchdowns, with some tough running in the red zone. Otherwise, the K.C. run game did not contribute. Charles had 49 yards on 11 carries; he was the only running back to touch the ball. Wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas lost seven yards on a gadget play. Smith scrambled away from pressure six times for 33 yards, including the Chiefs' longest run of the game at 19 yards. The scoreboard took the Chiefs away from the run game.
--PASS DEFENSE: F. Yes, it was Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball and that spelled doom for the Chiefs' defense. Early in the game, they were lost as they tried to slow the Packers' passing game. Rodgers ended up throwing five touchdown passes, with three to Randall Cobb. His streak of passes attempted at Lambeau Field stretched to 580 without an interception, although Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga had one in his hands. The K.C. defense got Rodgers on the ground just once. None of it was good enough.
--RUN DEFENSE: D. Stopping the run proved to be one facet of the game the Chiefs did well against Green Bay. They gave up 123 yards, but that came on 32 carries for a 3.8-yard average. Packers rushing leader Eddie Lacy was coming off an ankle injury and ran 10 times for 46 yards. It did not help the Chiefs that they gave up five runs of more than 10 yards to five different runners.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C. The Chiefs were solid in the kicking game, but did not produce any big plays that might have stopped the game's momentum that was controlled all night by Green Bay. Punter Dustin Colquitt again proved to be one of the team's most consistent weapons, averaging 50.2 yards on six punts with two falling inside the 20-yard line. Knile Davis had a 54-yard kickoff return that gave the Chiefs their best starting field position of the game (Packers 48-yard line.) De'Anthony Thomas had one punt return for 16 yards, but four more went for a total of two yards. Coverage units contained the Green Bay returners, but there was no sparkle.
--COACHING: D. The Chiefs had 11 days to prepare for this game, but they came up with nothing that bothered the Packers, whether it was on offense, defense or in the kicking game. Down 14 points before the first quarter was completed, head coach Andy Reid's offensive game plan went out the window and the Chiefs played catchup for the rest of the night. Reid's attitude was evident in his postgame press conference that was the shortest of his Kansas City tenure at just over two minutes and he sounded very Belichickan, saying several times "we are on to Cincinnati" less than 15 minutes after walking off the Lambeau turf.