Much of the crowd was quiet. The others in the crowd rang boos down. This was not the first half they expected from the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers could only manage seven points in the first half, while Rodgers also threw a pick six, only the second of his great career.
The offensive line play wasn’t great. The Bengals had five sacks in the first half, with two of those credited to rookie Carl Lawson. The defense couldn’t contain A.J. Green or rookie running back Joe Mixon, who was used more often than in the first two weeks. Andy Dalton looked nothing like the quarterback of the first two weeks.
Bengals fall short in an OT loss to Green Bay
However, the second half looked like a different game.
The Packers came out firing in the second half with an eight play, 75 yard touchdown drive with Rodgers finding Jordy Nelson in the back of the end zone.
The defense found a way to get off the field when they needed to. Whether it was Ahmad Brooks beating Jake Fisher early in the third quarter, or a stumble from Joe Mixon, the Packers got what they needed on third downs.
That stumble by Mixon gave Rodgers and the offense three minutes and 46 seconds to send the game to overtime. They would use nearly all of it.
Rodgers found second year receiver Geronimo Allison early on for a 17 yard gain. Two plays later, Allison dropped a key second down play that could’ve made third down much easier.
Very often, we see Rodgers go back to a receiver who dropped a pass the play after. It shows how much trust he has in his receivers.
He didn’t shy away from that in this game. Rodgers went straight back to Allison on an out route, and he delivered with a great catch.
The Packers continued to move the ball down the field, and finally reached a goal to go situation with under 50 seconds to go in the game. They seemed in no hurry down at the goal line, probably in hopes to leave the Bengals no time should they score. It was overtime or nothing.
After a defensive holding, Rodgers went back to a similar play in the game. Actually, it was a similar design to the play that resulted in Rodgers’ only pick six in this decade. The only difference was that it involved shorter routes to create separation in a tight area.
This time, the result was quite different. The NFL is a game of inches, and this play emulated that concept. Rodgers rolled right and found Nelson in the front right of the end zone, just inches from the outstretched hand of Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
Overtime was nothing new to the Packers, but winning in it would be. Before yesterday, the Packers under Rodgers were 0-7 in overtime, including playoffs. A couple of those times, most recently their playoff losses in Seattle and Arizona, the offense didn’t touch the ball.
Almost like a broken record, the Bengals won the toss.
But this time would be different.
The defense stood tall on the opening drive of overtime. Blake Martinez, who also had a very solid game, stood up Mixon for a two yard loss. Then, on third down, Josh Jones made sure that tight end Tyler Kroft wouldn’t get another inch.
The Packers had nothing going on their first two plays. Then, a jump offside gave Rodgers a free play.
Rodgers found Allison on a wheel up the sideline, and Allison did the work after the catch, breaking ankles all the way to the Bengals seven yard line. Mason Crosby finished it off, capping the Packers comeback win.
1. Josh Jones – His 11 solo tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss were a bright spot for this Packer defense. He consistently found his way to the ball in his zone, and finished off defenders.
2. Geronimo Allison – The second year wideout finished with six catches and 122 yards, with 72 of those coming on the setup for the game winning field goal. He definitely earned more trust Sunday, and expect him to be on the field more, even when Cobb returns.
3. Blake Martinez – Lost in the play of Josh Jones was a very good outing for Martinez. His seven solo tackles, including a big tackle for loss in overtime, proved important to the Packers defense.
1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – He hasn’t had the best start to the season. He looks a little lost at times in coverage, and isn’t tackling at the standard that he has so far in his career.
2. Martellus Bennett – There’s no denying what we saw on Sunday. Yes, Bennett did spend some time pass blocking, but this isn’t about lack of production. He dropped a key third down pass, didn’t work to get open on broken plays, and was beat up as a run blocker.
3. Offensive Line – Because both Bakhtiari and Bulaga (he hurt himself late in the game) ended up out to finish the game, it’s hard to avoid what we saw. Kyle Murphy continually got beat by rookie Carl Lawson, and it was tough to run the football. If the same group trots out for Chicago, it’ll be a tough game.
The Bears come to town on a short week. The Packers are still dealing with key injuries on both sides of the ball. Those are all worth monitoring up to game time. The Packers will need to bring it against an underrated Bears team.