It was a turnover filled contest on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, but when the dust settled the Cincinnati Bengals erased a 16 point deficit in the second half to knock off the Green Bay Packers 34-30.
The Bengals (2-1) and Packers (1-2) each recorded four sacks and forced four turnovers with the Packers forcing all four on consecutive Bengals' drives. Aaron Rodgers had his worst performance of the season throwing two picks and was way under the 400 yards per game he had averaged in the first two games. Andy Dalton shook off some costly turnovers to rally the troops with two second half touchdowns.
Turnovers played a big role early in the game to give Cincinnati an early 14-0 lead. On the opening drive Mohammed Sanu collected 46 of the 80 yards the Bengals gathered before Giovani Bernard leaped into the end zone for a three yard score. On the ensuing kickoff, the Packers muffed the return and Taylor Mays jumped on the ball at the Green Bay 2-yard line. BenJarvus Green-Ellis punched it in from their for his second touchdown of the season.
Then it was the Bengals turn to make costly mistakes as an Andy Dalton interception at the end of the first quarter resulted in a Mason Crosby field goal to get Green Bay on the board. Cincinnati then fumbled in each of its next three possessions. Jermaine Gresham's fumble resulted in a punt, Green-Ellis' fumble was returned for a touchdown, and Dalton's fumble off a sack led to a field goal. The Packers also added a last second field goal to take a 16-14 lead into the half.
Not finished, the Packers opened the second half with another scoring drive. This time the Packers were aided by a costly penalty on Reggie Nelson who erased a stop by the Bengals defense when he was called for roughing the passer. That led to a James Franklin 2-yard score and a 23-14 lead.
The Bengals drive stalled in Green Bay territory, but Kevin Huber pinned the Packers inside the ten yard line. Franklin, who gave the Packers their second straight game with a 100-yard rusher, busted into Bengals' territory with a 51-yard scamper. A 30-yard reception by Jordy Nelson set up a 7-yard TD reception by James Jones for a 30-14 Packer lead.
Two personal foul penalties shortened the field for the Bengals as did a 17-yard run by Bernard. That set up a 20-yard strike from Dalton to A.J. Green for the duo's third touchdown this season. Cincinnati tried to add on right away as Terrence Newman picked off Rodgers, but Mike Nugent's 52-yard field goal sailed wide.
Green Bay attempted to march down the field and were knocking on the door of the red zone before Leon Hall picked off Rodgers at the five yard line. Bernard quickly got them out of that hole when he took a short pass from Dalton for 31 yards. Marvin Jones' 22-yard reception got an extra 15 yards added on with another personal foul penalty on Green Bay. Jones and Dalton hooked up later in the drive, this time for an 11-yard TD to cut the lead to 30-27 after a blocked extra point.
The Packers marched back down the field when the Bengals defense stepped up in the final minutes. On a second and six from the Cincinnati 35-yard line, Domata Peko and Carlos Dunlap sent the Packers back six yards with a sack. Green Bay initially looked to pick up the 12 yards it needed on third down, but the Bengals challenged and Randall Cobb was ruled down for a gain of 11 yards to force fourth down. Trying to put the game away, Green Bay elected to go for it and that's when things went wrong.
Franklin was stripped by Michael Johnson and then Reggie Nelson scooped up the loose ball. Nelson only made it six yards before he fumbled as well, but Newman was in the right place and picked up the ball and took it to the house for a 58-yard defensive score and a 34-30 lead.
The Packers slowly moved their way into Cincinnati territory, but Rodgers' final throw fell incomplete on fourth down from the Cincinnati 20-yard line. Dalton took a knee to keep the Bengals perfect at home this season.
Cincinnati will now hit the road next week for a division showdown on Sunday in Cleveland (1-2). The Browns stunned the Vikings in the final minute to win 31-27 after averaging just eight points in their first two games.
Passing: Cin-Dalton (20-28, 235 yards, 2 TD, INT) GB-Rodgers (26-43, 244 yards, TD, 2INT)
Rushing: Cin-Bernard (10 carries, 50 yards, TD) GB-Franklin (13 carries, 103 yards, TD, fumble)
Receiving: Cin-Sanu (4 catches, 68 yards) GB-Nelson (8 catches, 93 yards)
Tackles: Cin-Vontaze Burfict (11) GB-Brad Jones (11)
Turnovers: Cin-4 GB-4
Sacks: Cin-4 GB-4