x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

For Packers and Colts, all good - and bad - runs do come to an end

In a tale of two teams, one found its march to the play-offs interrupted while the other sees light at the end of the tunnel. Green Bay saw its winning streak ended by Kansas City, and Indianapolis snapped its losing streak by upsetting Tennessee.

The Kansas City Chiefs made it a frustrating day at the office for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The Kansas City Chiefs made it a frustrating day at the office for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The NFL's longest winning and losing streaks came to an end on Sunday. The Green Bay Packers fell for the first time this season, and the Indianapolis Colts won for the first time.

The Packers, the Super Bowl champions, who had won 19 in a row dating to last season, were upset by the Kansas City Chiefs. But they said their main goal - securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs - was still within reach.

The Colts, who lost their star quarterback Peyton Manning before the season and were 0-13, avoided the possibility of becoming the second NFL team to not win a game in a 16-game season by beating the Tennessee Titans.

In Kansas City, the quarterback Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards as the Chiefs rallied behind Romeo Crennel, the interim coach, for a 19-14 win over Green Bay.

The Packers hardly seemed upset about their first loss since falling at New England on December 19, 2010.

"I personally always viewed the undefeated season as, really, just gravy," said Mike McCarthy, the Packers coach. "The goal was to get home-field advantage and win the Super Bowl.

"We were fortunate enough to be in the position to possibly achieve the undefeated season. But we still have the primary goal in front of us, and that's to get home-field [advantage]."

The Packers, playing without their leading receiver, Greg Jennings and top rusher, James Starks, because of injuries, can wrap up the No 1 seed by winning either of their final two games, against Chicago Bearsand Detroit Lions.

They no longer can face the pressure of becoming the second team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with a perfect record, or extending the second-longest winning streak in league history.

"Our ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl," said Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback. "The next step is getting the No 1 seed in the play-offs. We've got a home play-off game and a bye secured."

Rodgers was 17 of 35 for 235 yards and a touchdown, and he also ran eight yards for a touchdown with two minutes left in the game. But the Packers were unable to recover an onside kick, and Kansas City picked up a couple of first downs to secure the victory.

"They had a good game plan," Rodgers said. "You have to give them credit."

Ryan Succop kicked four field goals for the Chiefs, who had lost five of their previous six games and fired Todd Haley, the coach, last Monday. Jackie Battle added a short touchdown plunge with five minutes left, points that came in handy when Rodgers led the last scoring drive.

"Everybody had marked it off as a win for the Packers, but those guys in the locker room, they're football players," Crennel said. "They decided they were not going to lay down, they were not going to give up, so they went out and played a tremendous game."

In Indianapolis, the Colts stunned Tennessee 27-13 following 13 straight defeats.

"I'm happy for a lot of people on this team, for a lot of people in this organisation," said Dan Orlovsky, the latest replacement at quarterback for Manning, who had neck surgery and has not played this season. "It's a lot better than the feeling we've had lately."

Only one team, the 2008 Lions, went 0-16.

"It means a lot, but we're a proud ball club, so one game out of 13 or 14, we still have a ways to go," said Robert Mathis, the defensive end. "Everybody held the fort today. We just kept chopping wood and the tree fell today."

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Colts players and coaches celebrated, and Orlovsky got to close it out by taking the traditional kneel-downs for the first time in his career.

He had been 0-9 as a starter.

After the game, Bill Polian, the team vice chairman, said that Manning will not play in the final two games of the season, even though the four-time league MVP has begun throwing to teammates at the team complex.

The comments came in a rare, five-paragraph post-game statement Polian made from the podium. He did not take questions.

"It was determined by the doctors that there was no chance he [Manning] would play this year," Polian said, referring to a Thursday meeting. "His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action. He may practise in some very scripted and circumscribed circumstances if he wishes.

"That's entirely up to him."

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