Yesterday was a day of peculiar landmarks for Rodgers and the Packers. It was the hottest game ever played at Lambeau with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. The Bengals were the last team on Rodgers list to beat in the NFL. He also passed John Elway for 10th all-time in passing touchdowns. A slow start did not dispirit a banged up Packers team as they came out on top 27-24.
Seven key players (6 starters) did not practice last week and all seven were inactive vs the Bengals. This list included David Bahktiari, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, and Mike Daniels. Despite missing such a core group, young players stepped up to fight through a 14-point halftime deficit.
It was hard to tell Andy Dalton had struggled the first two games of the year after his first drive went for 80 yards on 10 plays. Rodgers countered with a quick touchdown drive of his own, though it was really the only positive to occur offensively in the first half.
To start the second quarter Rodgers found Davante Adams near the sideline for a 41-yard pass. Two plays later on 3rd and 6 he tried to throw an out route to Jordy Nelson, but was picked off by William Jackson who returned it for a touchdown. It was Rodgers first pick six since 2009, an NFL record.
“I need to stop throwing to Jacksons,” Rodgers said postgame. The first pick six of Rodgers career was thrown to Tanard Jackson from Tampa Bay. He is probably the only QB to ever play the game who would actually remember the guy’s name.
Although having thrown the pick six and getting sacked five times in the first half, Rodgers confidence in his arm never wavered. The first play to start the third quarter he found tight end Eric Kendricks for a catch and run of 51 yards. The drive was capped off by a Jordy Nelson touchdown on the goaline to close the gap to seven.
After a spotty first half the Packers hobbled defense came up big forcing two three and outs. They were also graced with a missed field goal halfway through the third quarter.
Safety Josh Jones, making his first NFL start, played exceptionally well as he led the team with 12 tackles and two sacks. Jones would later make a huge open field tackle in overtime to get the Packers the ball and set up the game winning drive.
Still down a touchdown with under four minutes to go, Rodgers and the Packers offense received a chance to avoid giving the Bengals their first win of the season. Rodgers played remarkable. He extended plays and made incredible off balance throws to find Geronimo Allison and Nelson along the sideline. The clock kept ticking, but McCarthy and Rodgers managed the game beautifully.
With 1:13 left the Packers reached the Cincinnati 7 with two timeouts remaining. They handed it off to Ty Montgomery for a 6-yard run and let the clock run to under 30 seconds. Two plays later he found Nelson on a quick out route near the far pylon to tie the game at 24. Rodgers was 9 of 11 for 65 yards on the drive.
Aaron Rodgers entered the game with an overtime record of 0-7. The worst in NFL history. It never seemed to phase him.
The biggest mistake the Bengals could have made in OT was letting Rodgers touch the ball. There was no chance he would let this one slip away after so much effort was put forth in getting the team in a position to win.
On the third play of his overtime drive, Rodgers drew an offsides free play in which he found Allison down the sideline for a 72-yard play. The Packers all-time scoring leader, Mason Crosby, did the rest as he booted home the 27-yard game winner.
Injuries made this game closer than it should have been, however it is character wins like this that leave an impression on the young guys. Jones and Blake Martinez were the true playmakers on defense as they held the Bengals to only three second half points.
The Packers are on a short week and it may not be enough time to get everyone healthy for the Bears on Thursday. Once again they could be without both starting tackles. Bulaga made his first start of 2017 yesterday, but his ankle tightened up again late in the third causing him to miss the rest of the game. At this point it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you are put in the game the expectation stays the same. You better play well.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.