Cincinnati Bengals – 24
Green Bay Packers – 27

The Cincinnati Bengals travelled to an unusually warm Lambeau Field for the Packers week 3 game. Following a slow first half start for the offense, including an uncharacteristic Aaron Rodgers pick six, that resulted in the Bengals leading 21-7 at the half, the Packers came out with their hair on fire on their way to a 24-24 tied score at the end of regulation time before clinching the game on a Mason Crosby overtime field goal. At this point, the Packers sit at 2-1 on the season heading into Thursday night’s home game against the Chicago Bears.

I’d also like to briefly apologise for last weeks lack of a Post Game Play Action. As many of you know, I stay over in Scotland, where our only way to watch games is through the online version of GamePass. Sadly, the NFL awarded the contract for running it to a new company this year who has essentially systematically destroyed the service. The video of the Packers game wasn’t made available until Thursday due to some issues they were having by which point we were into week 3 and past the point of what is meant to be a quick hits post game article. Fingers crossed we won’t have any more issues and this article will be up as usual throughout the rest of the season!

Keys To The Game

Stepping Up Defense

While at first glance it looked like this may not be a great defensive performance, I feel like when looking at all the factors in play here the defense played both as well as they possibly could, and in a way that should continue the excitement of their performance versus Seattle. Cincinnati scored only 14 points versus the defense in the first half, and were held to 3 in the entire second, with only 301 total yards for the game. Considering 210 of those yards were from either receiver AJ Green or rookie running back Joe Mixon the rest of the Bengals offense was relatively shut down. To achieve this while missing numerous important starters to injury such as Mike Daniels, Nick Perry and Davon House, as well as usually solid depth players like Kentrell Brice, was impressive. The defense was forced to utilise some players normally reserved for use on special teams such as safety Marwin Evans in significant snaps on defense which naturally opened up some options for Bengals QB Dalton to find AJ Green to the tune of 10 receptions for 111 yards and the Bengals first touchdown of the season.

The part of this performance that I find most important though was the fact it became the coming out party for rookie safety Josh Jones. Since being drafted, Jones’ versatility and upside has been touted as important and made many of us excited about how he could be utilised in Capers’ popular Nitro package on defense as a hybrid linebacker-safety. With his most extensive snap count of the season, Jones finished this game with 2 sacks (including the first of his career), 12 tackles (11 solo, 3 tackles for loss). He was a large part of how the Packers 4-safety look in the nitro package managed to hold the Bengals offense to 3 points over the final 40 minutes of game clock. If this is the kind of player Jones is to become, and we’ve no reason to suspect otherwise, that’s going to be a dangerous group with Clinton-Dix and Burnett.

An Offensive Offensive Line

With the return of right tackle Bulaga to the starting lineup, the hope going into this game was that the line would be more robust than in recent weeks. Sadly, left tackle David Bakhtiari was still out and the Packers went into this game with an offensive line starting Kyle Murphy at left tackle. The result of this, along with the loss throughout the game of Bulaga and starting guard Lane Taylor for a series resulting in Justin McCray playing snaps at tackle and guard, was a 6 sack game for the Bengals. For this offense to really hit the heights of which it is capable with the additions made this year, alongside the settling in of Montgomery to the role of starting RB, the line needs to be together and healthy for a couple of games. The injury to Bulaga (from which he did not return to the game) did not seem severe, and news concerning Bakhtiari is positive, so we may see the offensive line finally come together against Chicago this week and provide Rodgers with the extended pocket time to which he has become accustomed over the previous years.

Player of the Week – Geronimo Allison

Not enough can be said about Allison this week. The overtime 73 yard catch and run that set up the winning field goal was a spectacular piece of work. As he ran down the field he left not one, but two, Bengals defenders lying in the grass after being juked out of their shoes by the shifty receivers running. Allison hauled in 6 passes for 122 yards on the night, the highest yardage total of his young career, with three of them going for first downs. Of those three, two came on big time sideline catches on the final drive of regulation time that allowed the Packers to tie the game and force OT.

This performance in relief of the injured Randall Cobb, with Allison running many of the kind of routes that Cobb is known for, the little outs at the first down line, the short seam routes, was incredibly important to the offense in this win. That said, he looked most impressive on that long overtime catch. Given his habit over the last season and a bit of making some of the most important big time catches in the clutch, I feel like there’s every possibility that as time goes on Allison becomes Davante Adams as Adams moves into the role of taking over for Jordy Nelson, and I’m 100% okay with that being the future at receiver in this offense.

Totally-Not-Knee-Jerk Reactions

1. I can’t be the only person who still feels their butt clench watching Trevor Davis back there fielding punts. Every single time I just get a little heart flutter of ‘please don’t fumble’. Given the depth that an improving Allison gives the Packers at receiver, I wouldn’t be against seeing Cobb back there a little more once he’s back to full health.

2. Tony Romo might be the best commentator in the NFL already. Not merely for the Rasputin-esque clairvoyance on playcalling, but because he brings so much passion alongside his knowledge in a way I don’t feel some ex-player commentators do. My fellow PTTF buddy Matt put it best when he tweeted after the game that “The only bad bit about Tony Romo is he sometimes gets so excited he can’t comment on what’s happening……and that’s not a terrible thing.” and I wholeheartedly agree with that. I enjoy commentators that every now and again let their fandom not of a team, but of the sport, slip in to their work a little. We can recognise that piece of ourselves in them and I feel it improves the immersive experience of watching a game.

3. There was so much talk in this game of Rodgers fourth quarter comebacks/OT victories. It’s such a nonsense stat for a QB. He consistently puts his team up by 2-3 scores heading into the fourth and doesn’t need fourth quarter comebacks like lesser QBs (cough, Matthew Stafford) because that’s what great quarterbacks do. Hopefully this means that that ridiculous narrative can finally disappear.


 

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