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Mason Crosby's 27-yard field goal won the game for Green Bay. (PHOTO: Evan Siegle/Packers.com)

The rambling, non-recap Packers game review: Week 3 vs. Bengals



Photo Gallery Gallery: Packers bounce the Bengals, 27-24

What a game. What an ending! What a magical clutch performance by Aaron Rodgers! What troublingly familiar and still-unresolved problems on display yet again – and against an inferior opponent and at home!

Whew. That one might've taken a few years off some of the more bratwurst-engorged Green Bay fans, but damn it was a fun finish.

And, hey, we've got some – though not very much – of next week to focus on how Green Bay can/might/should/will hopefully fix those issues before they face the Chicago Bears on Thursday night at Lambeau Field. For now, let's all exhale loudly, remind ourselves (soothingly if perhaps mistakenly) to "R-E-L-A-X" and celebrate – within reason – the Packers' dramatic and exciting and very much-needed victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, 27-24.

We'd seen this story before right? An injury-depleted Green Bay squad comes out slow and seemingly unmotivated, falls behind to a team it should handle easily, the coverage and tackling are poor, the offensive line is bad and receivers aren't getting open, the running game is stalling and Rodgers is scowling, and fans – on Twitter and those booing from the stands at Lambeau – are wondering, as Vince Lombardi famously yelled, what the hell's going on out there?

Then things begin to turn around. Thanks to more imaginative playcalling (the old recess-yard flea flicker?!) and Rodgers' sheer resolve, the offense gets into a better rhythm, the defense turns up the pass-rush pressure and tightens things up in the secondary, the Packers' typical talent advantage – at least when their talented players are on the field – starts to manifest, and the game starts to turn.

We've definitely seen that story before, and we've seen it the last couple of years with increasing frequency. The 2011-12 days of scoring 35 points a game and hanging 44 on the bad teams are gone. More often than not, Green Bay's results are three- to seven-point margins; it sometimes feels like a game of, here's all the adversity the Packers and their opponent can muster; will Aaron Rodgers be able to overcome it by himself?

And, of course, that's unfair. The second half and overtime was a brilliant team performance, as the defense stepped up and the offensive line improved, the passing game was unstoppable and Mason Crosby kicked the winning 27-yard field goal. Green Bay deserved to beat Cincinnati, which, coming into the game winless, was playing with a dangerous energy, but you might like it not to be so hard.

"Oh, we took a step as a football team," head coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. "This always pays forward when you go through adversity and you have success."

So the Packers are 2-1 going into their short week, when they'll host Chicago on Thursday Night Football, and currently in third place in the NFC North. Before diving into that, though, let's take a look back at Green Bay's thrilling victory over the Bengals on Sunday.

Who starred

Let's first acknowledge that Rodgers – who completed 28 of 42 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and an interception – is certainly deserving. So, too, might be Geronimo Allison, who had six receptions for 122 yards, including the crucial 72-yarder that set up the game-winning field goals.

But, after going with another 2017 second-round defensive back here last week, I'm picking safety Josh Jones. The 23-year-old from North Carolina State was a physical force and he was everywhere, leading the Packers with 12 tackles, including three for loss and two huge sacks. Coming almost out of nowhere – particularly with a team with a couple of great safeties, Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – Jones, who was a training-camp star, showed he can make a major impact in regular-season NFL games.

Who stunk

Ty Montgomery and Green Bay's running game. Montgomery had 12 carries for 35 yards, and he added an impressive eight catches that went for just 15 yards. Rookie Jamaal Williams got only one carry for six yards, and as much as the Packers talk about offensive balance and establishing the running game – whether because of backfield talent, offensive line ability or play-calling acumen – they cannot attain it.

Unsung hero

Give me a big and underrated Blake Martinez game here. With Nick Perry and Jake Ryan out, and Clay Matthews largely neutralized on the edge, Martinez had a huge responsibility for taking care of the nitty-gritty defensive work inside. He finished with 11 tackles, including one for loss, and was almost always in position and constantly organizing the defense.

Best quote

"Luckily, I put it in a good spot and G-Mo did the rest." – Rodgers on his overtime pass to Geronimo Allison.

Best photo

Looking ahead

The Packers (2-1), who are dealing with injuries on both the offensive and defensive line, have three days off before hosting the Bears (1-2) at Lambeau Field for a Thursday Night Football matchup.

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