KANSAS CITY, MO. — Without quarterback Patrick Mahomes, not many gave the Kansas City Chiefs much of a chance against the Green Bay Packers.
The Chiefs, though, proved they belonged on the field with the Packers in a close and entertaining game before suffering a 31-24 defeat to drop to 5-3.
Packers running back Aaron Jones ensured he would do more than his fair share to beat the Chiefs, who have now lost three straight home games. He racked up 226 total yards (159 receiving) and two touchdowns, including a game-sealing 67-yard TD catch from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"They caught us in man and ran a screen," Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens said of Jones' last touchdown catch. "Other than that, I think we held our ground. So, we've just got to learn from it.
"It sucks. They're a good team, a good quarterback, a couple of big plays and that's the game."
The matchup boiled down to who would make the first mistake, and Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy obliged the Packers.
With 1 minute, 19 seconds remaining in the third period and the game tied at 17, Packers defensive end Tyler Lancaster forced a McCoy fumble, which Lancaster also recovered at the Chiefs' 27-yard line. McCoy has now lost two fumbles this season, the first coming in Week 5.
"When two good teams play each other, sometimes a turnover here or there can affect you," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "That's a little bit of what happened tonight."
The Packers capitalized five plays later when Rodgers avoided pressure with the pocket collapsing around him and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to running back Jamaal Williams to give Green Bay a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs countered on the change of possession as running back Damien Williams punched it in from 3 yards out to tie the game again and set up Jones' game-winning touchdown catch on the Packers' next possession.
The Packers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and appeared to be on their way to an easy win.
Filling in for Mahomes, Moore got off to a rocky start, completing 2 of 4 passes. But the veteran signal-caller eventually settled down and led the Chiefs to three consecutive points-producing drives against the beatable Packers defense, which entered the game ranked 27th in the league.
The Chiefs got Moore in a rhythm with short and intermediate throws, and he finished the first half completing 15 of 23 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. The first scoring pass went to tight end Travis Kelce on a beautifully designed play that featured a lot of motion in the backfield.
With the defense peeking into the backfield, Kelce snuck past the linebackers and Moore lofted the pass to the waiting arms of his tight end for an easy 29-yard touchdown.
On the Chiefs' next possession, Moore completed 3 of 4 passes, including a short pass behind the line of scrimmage to Mecole Hardman, who then turned on the jets down the left sideline for a 30-yard score. Hardman made his presence felt in the first half, showing off his speed with two catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.
The Chiefs scored on a field goal on the third drive to take a 17-14 lead into halftime.
Moore finished the game 24 of 36 for 267 yards and two touchdowns, while Tyreek Hill led the Chiefs' wide receiver group with six catches for 76 yards on nine targets.
"I think he did a great job being a leader and controlling the offense for someone who's been here for such a short time and being thrown in," center Austin Reiter said of Moore. "As an offense, we had complete confidence in him to go out there and play. I don't know what the stats are. There's really no moral victories, but I thought he went out there and played his (tail) off."
Kelce, who finished with four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, agreed.
"He played outstanding," Kelce said of Moore.
For a second straight week, the defense came out with a spirited effort, sacking Rodgers five times and hitting him 12 times. The Chiefs sacked Joe Flacco eight times, and registered nine sacks overall, last week at Denver.
Defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon led the charge with two sacks, while linebacker Damien Wilson, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbach and defensive tackle Khalen Saunders each added one.
The Chiefs also showed a willingness to blitz and the strategy worked in consistently collapsing the pocket around Rodgers.
But Rodgers made the plays when they counted, completing 23 of 33 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns and adding 29 yards on six carries to help Green Bay improve to 7-1.
"He's a very good quarterback," linebacker Damien Wilson said. "Definitely a Hall of Famer. If you let him sit there and pick you apart, he's going to do exactly that."
Hitchens echoed his defensive teammate's assessment.
"When you've got good quarterbacks like that, they expose small things," Hitchens said. "I mean, it's football. It's going to suck for tonight, but I'll wake up tomorrow and turn the page."
The Chiefs play host to the Minnesota Viking next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.