By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - With their perfect season spoiled by a surprise loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers can turn their full attention to securing home-field advantage for the playoffs as they get set to defend their Super Bowl title.
After 19 consecutive victories dating back to last season, Sunday's road game versus the struggling Chiefs did not appear a daunting hurdle on the Packers' drive towards a perfect National Football League (NFL) season.
But on a day of upsets, it was a Chiefs team that fired their coach and benched their quarterback in the past week that pulled off the surprise of the season with a 19-14 win that was Green Bay's first loss since December 19 last year at New England.
"It still sucks, it's not a fun feeling," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters.
"It's nice to go a calendar year without having to feel like this but ... we've got two home games to finish things out and hopefully we'll get to the point playing the way we want to play going into a home playoff game."
The loss denied the Packers more than a chance to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to go unbeaten an entire season and win a Super Bowl. It kept Green Bay from locking up home field advantage throughout the playoffs and ensuring the road to the Super Bowl runs through Lambeau Field.
Clinching home field has now moved to the top of the Packers to-do list with two games left in Green Bay against division rivals in Chicago and Detroit.
"I always viewed the undefeated season as just gravy," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "The goal is to get home field advantage and win the Super Bowl."
The loss was even more unexpected coming against a Chiefs team that entered Sunday's game having lost five of their last six and still reeling from the firing of head coach Todd Haley and appointment of Romeo Crennel as interim caretaker.
There was even more upheaval with Kyle Orton handed his first start as Chiefs quarterback.
Cast off by Chicago and unwanted by Denver, Orton outdueled Rodgers, the player widely expected to be crowned the league's most valuable player (MVP) this season.
While Rodgers tossed his franchise-record 40th touchdown of the season to Donald Driver, the reigning Super Bowl MVP had a very mediocre day completing 17-of-35 passes for 235 yards.
"That is about as much fun as I've ever had on a football field," said Orton, who completed 23-of-31 attempts for 299 yards. "When you go through practise and all that stuff and your team mates don't really know you until you get into that huddle and that's a special time for me.
"That was a great football team we beat, they got a great chance to win the Super Bowl."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)