Protecting the football a good place to start for Chiefs in Week 3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Forget for a minute the Green Bay Packers have reeled off 10 straight wins, including the playoffs, at Lambeau Field.

Also put aside Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown 43 touchdowns with no interceptions while posting a 124 passer rating in the past 18 home games, a stretch where Rodgers threw the ball 545 times.

Aug. 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI; Chiefs coach Andy Reid during a preseason game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Aug. 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI; Chiefs coach Andy Reid during a preseason game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

The opposing statistics are formidable, for sure, but the Chiefs need to focus on not beating themselves to have a shot at defeating the Packers in a hostile environment.

And it starts with five, as in the number of turnovers the Chiefs committed in Week 2 en route to a stunning loss against the Denver Broncos.

“I’m a little hard on the turnovers, I’m not big on those,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I mean, there are times where the helmet hits right on the ball.

“We don’t make any excuses for that, that’s not what we do. I would tell you that most turnovers, most of the time, you can take care of. Is there an exception in there? Yeah, but most of the time, you can fix those and take care of those.”

Of the Chiefs’ five turnovers in Week 2, the Broncos converted two of the takeaways into 14 points.

None hurt more than running back Jamaal Charles’ fumble, which Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby scooped up and returned for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

Green Bay forced 27 takeaways in 2014 and led the NFL in turnover margin with a plus-14, and the team is back to old tricks through two games.

The Packers have forced three turnovers on the young season, including two against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. The Packers turned one of Seattle’s turnovers into a field goal, and came away with a game-clinching fumble recovery late in the contest.

The Chiefs face an opportunistic defense, and the players understand the importance of taking care of the football.

But the coaching staff prefers not to pound it in the players’ heads.

“They understand they have to take care of the football,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “We understand that is the prized possession.

“We talk about it, we don’t preach about it because I think if you bring emphasis to it, you don’t let them go play, they don’t cut their talent loose. Now they’re thinking about protecting the ball rather than breaking that tackle and gaining an extra 10 yards. It’s something we talk about, but we’re not going to beat them up over.”

Quarterback Alex Smith, who had two interceptions in Week 2, agreed with his offensive coordinator.

“I don’t think you focus on that,” Smith said. “I think you’re focusing more on the other side of it. It’s making good decisions, it’s carrying the ball properly, it’s having two hands on the ball in the pocket. You’re not going out there to try and not do something.”

The Chiefs are well-aware a repeat of Week 2 can’t occur on Monday Night Football.

They’ll keep the importance of securing the football in the back of minds, but the team’s focus falls squarely on doing what needs to be accomplished to potentially come away with a victory.

“We’re trying to go up there and score points and with that, we’re trying to have our fundamentals,” Smith said. “Be good enough that you avoid turnovers, right? That you’re carrying the ball the right way, that you’re making good decisions and you’re accurate with the football, those types of things. Your intention is never to go up there and not turn the ball over.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

OFFENSE

• The Chiefs rank 12th in rushing (120.5 yards per game) and 25th in passing (201.5 yards per game).
• The Packers rank ninth in rushing (130 yards per game) and 21st in passing (211.5 yards per game).

DEFENSE

• The Chiefs rank eight against the run (79.5 yards allowed per game) and 23rd against the pass (268 yards allowed per game).
• The Packers rank 31st against the run (154 yards allowed per game) and 12th against the pass (209 yards allowed per game).

THE LAST TIME

The Chiefs defeated the Packers 19-14 in Week 15 of the 2011 season at Arrowhead Stadium.

Monday night marks the 12th time in regular and postseason history the two teams will meet, including a rematch of Super Bowl I, a contest won by the Packers.

The Chiefs are 7-3-1 in the all-time series, including holding a 3-0 record at Lambeau Field (1989, 1990, 2003).

Kansas City has won six of the last seven contests played, but the Packers have defeated coach Andy Reid three straight times in recent meetings.

CONNENCTIONS

• Chiefs coach Andy Reid spent seven seasons in Green Bay as an assistant coach (1992-98).
• Chiefs general manager John Dorsey played linebacker for the Packers (1984-89), served as a Packers area scout (1991-96), and then served in the front office (1997-98, 2000-12) prior to joining the Chiefs in 2013.
• Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson served as a Packers backup quarterback (1995-98, 2001-04) to Brett Favre.
• Chiefs defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas served as the Packers defensive coordinator in 1999.
• Chiefs assistant secondary coach Al Harris played for the Packers (2003-09).
• Chiefs strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin served in the same capacity with the Packers (1995-05).
• Chiefs director of pro scouting Will Lewis served as a Packers scout and assistant director of pro personnel (1997-99).
• Chiefs inside linebackers Frank Zombo (2010-12) and Dezman Moses (2012) played for the Packers before joining the Chiefs in 2013.
• Packers coach Mike McCarthy served under former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer (1993-98).
• Packers assistant offensive line coach Mike Solari was with the Chiefs as an offensive line coach, and the spent his final two seasons in Kansas City as the offensive coordinator (1997-07).
• Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who is on injured reserve with an ACL injury, is a native of Riley Country, Kan., and played collegiately at Kansas State.
• Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers were both first-round picks in the 2005 NFL Draft.

QUOTABLE

Chiefs safety Eric Berry on what he remembers about the thunderous applause during his pregame introduction at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 2:

“I don’t know. I blacked out. I don’t even remember it, it was just so much emotions – I can’t even really remember it.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid on how the team plans to contain Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers:

“Obviously, we’re not going to tell you the strategy of it, but you’ve got to give that a whirl, right?”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on what he brought with him to Green Bay from his time serving on Marty Schottenheimer’s staff with the Chiefs:

“Marty Schottenheimer is a huge influence on our program here in Green Bay. We do a lot of things systematically scheduling and structure-wise that I learned from my time with Marty.”

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Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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