A lot of blame to go around: Packers blow 16-point lead to Bengals, lose
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider senior editor
~CINCINNATI -The Packers scored 30 consecutive points Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals, took a 16-point third quarter lead, then watched as two Aaron Rodgers interceptions and one Johnathan Franklin fumble allowed the Bengals to roar back with the game’s final 20 points and defeat the Packers 34-30.
The loss puts the Packers at 1-2 entering their early, but much-needed already, bye, and in third place in the NFC North behind the Bears and the Lions. The only team in the division looking up at the Packers is the Minnesota Vikings at 0-3. How do things look from there, Greg Jennings?
Along the way, the Packers were their typical self, losing guys left and right to injuries of various degrees.
First out was Jermichael Finley, who took a helmet to his head, and he left with a concussion. He lasted part of one drive and was hit on a 3rd down pass in a tight window, made a great catch seemingly, but took a big hit from the safety and the ball came free.
Next out was James Starks due to some kind of knee tweek. That left the Packers with only one running back as DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, John Kuhn had already gone down before this game.
After him, it was the best player on the field, Clay Matthews. He had made two sensational, fumble-forcing plays to get the Packers out of the 14-0 early hole. He was on pace for one of his best ever games, but like so many before him on this team, his hamstring pulled. He joined fellow hamstringers Morgan Burnett, Casey Hayward, and John Kuhn on the sideline watching the second half.
Rookie Franklin was the breakout star of the game, filling in for Starks who was filling in for Lacy, who was filling in for Harris.
Franklin showed why some thought he was perhaps the most talented back in this draft. He cut and weaved his way to over 100 yards and scored a touchdown. He even picked up some nice blocks protecting Rodgers.
But late in the game, he burst through a small hole that closed immediately by one of the Bengals 300-pounders, and he rolled his ankle.
He re-entered the game, in time to get the ball on the key fourth & inches run behind no blocks. The ball was knocked away and picked up by Bengal safety Reggie Nelson. He was tackled impressively by Packer wideout Randall Cobb, causing a fumble of his own. Unfortunately for the Packers, it was perfectly placed on the ground for Bengal cornerback Terence Newman to pick up and scoot 58 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
That set the stage for Aaron Rodgers to provide some last-minute magic. That is the only thing missing from a Hall of Fame resume. His super-backers often find excuses for his now 5-17 record in games decided by four points or less. There are always “things” that happen along the ways, but the fact is once again, ball in his hands final drive, he did not lead the team to a game-winning touchdown.
We did see a few of them today though. Jake Locker of the Titans produced a last minute win against San Diego. And first time starter Brian Hoying of the Browns engineered a final drive touchdown at Minnesota to beat the Vikings. This the same Browns team who just threw in the towel on 2013 by trading Trent Richardson for a 2014 first round pick of the Colts.