So'oto stars as Packers beat Chiefs 20-19
GREEN BAY With most of the Super Bowl champions' marquee players on the sideline, outside linebacker Vic So'oto likely sealed up his roster spot in the Green Bay Packers' 20-19 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Thursday night's preseason finale.
So'oto, an undrafted free agent out of BYU who ended up in Green Bay after his wife chose among multiple NFL offers, returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown. He had 1½ sacks and a forced fumble.
Packers defensive lineman Howard Green, a 340-pounder, gave the Chiefs a scare when he landed directly on top of starting quarterback Matt Cassel.
Aaron Rodgers played just one series for the Packers, throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Crabtree.
The Chiefs pulled Cassel after the big hit but kept many of their starters in the game into the fourth quarter. Kicker Ryan Succop missed a 56-yard attempt at the end of the game for Kansas City (0-4).
Meanwhile, several Packers veterans didn't suit up — and the night belonged to So'oto.
So'oto, who recently said he came to the Packers after his wife choose among offers from Green Bay, Arizona and Miami, already seemed likely to make the roster with a surprising performance in training camp. Thursday's game might have been all he needed — and then some.
With the Chiefs facing third-and-6 on their first possession, So'oto shed his block and sacked Cassel. He made another big play with the Chiefs driving on their second possession, forcing a fumble by Jamaal Charles.
So'oto made his biggest play in the third quarter, dropping into coverage and picking off a pass by Tyler Palko and rumbling into the end zone to give Green Bay a 20-16 lead. So'oto then did a "Lambeau Leap" into the stands.
It probably won't be his last.
Meanwhile, pass protection has been an issue for the Packers in the preseason, and Thursday brought more of the same — this time from the backups.
With the Packers' offense backed up near its own end zone after a holding penalty on Ray Dominguez, center Nick McDonald snapped a ball over the head of backup quarterback Matt Flynn. He got the ball back but was tackled by defensive lineman Allen Bailey for a safety.
Although Cassel left the game after he took the hard hit from Green, Kansas City continued to play its offensive starters. Both their first-half touchdown drives came against Packers backups.
The Chiefs went out of their way to get their first-team offense one last tuneup, even trying a fake punt and onside kick in the first half. The fake punt worked, continuing a drive that ended with Cassel throwing a 10-yard touchdown to Dexter McCluster.
With time running out in the first half, Palko threw a 2-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe on 4th down. The call was upheld on a replay review.
While the Chiefs played most of their front-line players, the Packers rested plenty of players Thursday. Cornerback Charles Woodson, safety Nick Collins, linebacker A.J. Hawk, outside linebacker Clay Matthews, tight end Jermichael Finley and wide receivers Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones were among the Packers who did not play.
NOTES: Chiefs S Eric Berry was called for a personal foul on a helmet-to-helmet hit in the first half. ... Packers rookie CB Davon House injured his ankle in the second quarter. ... Bowe had eight catches for 85 yards.