A wild contest that saw unanswered runs of 14, 30 and 20 points was lost Sunday by the Green Bay Packers (1-2), who rallied after falling behind early only to let the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) score three-straight touchdowns over the final 19 minutes and win, 34-30.
It was over when…
…Aaron Rodgers' fourth-down pass fell incomplete with the Packers at Cincinnati's 20-yard line. A touchdown would have likely won the game, but Rodgers' attempt to James Jones was tipped at the line of scrimmage. It was a thud of an ending to a game that provided gut punch after gut punch to each side.
- Jordy Nelson: There's simply no better receiver in the game at working along the sidelines than Nelson, who made a handful of acrobatic catches again Sunday. He finished with a game-high eight catches for 93 yards. Nelson has at least 60 yards receiving in each of Green Bay's first three games.
- M.D. Jennings: Jennings' inclusion on this list highlights how difficult it was to pick out gameballs. Seemingly every player who had a positive play or two also had one or two big negatives (see: Johnathan Franklin, Sam Shields). Jennings gets recognition here for his scoop-and-score touchdown and first-half sack. He was Green Bay's best safety on this day, but that's not exactly saying a whole lot.
The Packers ran 77 plays and tallied 399 yards. However, the four turnovers were the team's most in a regular-season game since Week 3 of 2010, and 4-for-15 on third or fourth down and 2-for-4 scoring touchdowns in the red zone didn't cut it...Each team had four sacks...Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions in a regular-season game for the first time in 41 appearances. It snapped the longest active streak in the NFL, and the longest overall streak since the 1970 merger. The last time he tossed two picks was in October of 2010...Johnathan Franklin rushed for 103 yards, which extended the Packers' streak of 100-yard rushers to two games...Green Bay's 182 rushing yards were its most since Week 7 of 2009, when the Packers rushed for 202 against Cleveland...Mason Crosby went 3-for-3 on kicks, and is now 4-for-4 on the season...All three of Tim Masthay's punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. He averaged 43.3 yards a kick Sunday...Bengals receiver A.J. Green caught a second-half touchdown but was otherwise held to four catches for 46 yards...The Packers are now 5-17 in games decided by four or fewer points with Rodgers at quarterback, and 0-20 when trailing a team with a winning record in the fourth quarter.
– No team in 14 years has scored 30 unanswered points and lost.
– It looked like the Packers essentially threw out a week's worth of offensive preparations once Jermichael Finley exited with a concussion in the first quarter. The entire offense lacked direction or sync once the tight end was out of the equation, and that hurt the Packers down the stretch. By scoring only 13 points off four Bengals turnovers, Green Bay wasted an opportunity to gain a cushion before half time.
– Don't mind the fourth-down run to Johnathan Franklin at all, but why up the middle? Sneak it with Rodgers if you're going to attack the most talented part of the Bengals defense. Or give Franklin a stretch play where he can read what's happening and make a cut, like he did so often and successfully Sunday. That was the one play when the injuries at running back cost the Packers.
– Not having Clay Matthews (hamstring) in the second half was a back-breaker. In fact, 168 of Andy Dalton's 235 passing yards and both touchdowns came after Matthews left the contest. The Packers can still get pressure without Matthews, but it's mostly manufactured pressure. His loss permeated throughout the entire front seven.
– Keep this in mind: The Packers were without starters at running back, safety, cornerback and eventually tight end and outside linebacker, plus backup running back and special teams gunner. Coughing up a 16-point second half lead is inexcusable, but that's a lot of talent to lose on the road against a good football team.
– The Packers weren't happy about a Week 4 bye when the schedule came out, but it really couldn't have come at a better time now. Green Bay needs to get physically and emotionally healthy before welcoming the Detroit Lions to Lambeau Field on Oct. 6.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.
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