Rodgers sharp, but Packers fall to Bengals
In his first start for the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers delivered a pair of scoring drives and a number of highlights in a 20-17 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals here Monday night.
The Packers definitively handed Rodgers the keys to one of the NFL’s best offenses after trading Favre to the New York Jets last week—ending an ugly, month-long divorce with one of the most beloved players in franchise history.
And despite spending most of the past three seasons holding a clipboard, Rodgers didn’t show many signs of nerves in his first step out of Favre’s shadow. The Bengals tagged Rodgers for an early interception off of a deflected pass, but he recovered to complete 9 of 15 throws for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Rodgers could have had a second scoring strike, but couldn’t connect on a deep ball to wide open receiver James Jones on the Packers’ third drive. On the next play, Rodgers threw a crisp 30-yard pass to Ruvell Martin on third-and-2 that helped set up a 37-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.
On the Packers’ next possession, Jones caught a dart from Rodgers and ran for a 30-yard touchdown—despite bouncing off a jarring hit from Bengals safety Marvin White that knocked off his helmet. As Jones completed a “Lambeau Leap” into the grandstands, Rodgers ran down the field to congratulate him.
Rodgers left the game after the first quarter, with the Packers leading 10-0 after a sluggish performance by the Bengals’ No. 1 offense.
Playing without running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati didn’t gain a first down until early in the second quarter.
Carson Palmer finished the game 5-for-9 for 33 yards with a touchdown, connecting with tight end Ben Utecht for a 14-yard score early in the second quarter.
Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick took over and led the Bengals on a drive, handing off to Chris Perry for a 6-yard touchdown that put Cincinnati ahead 14-10. Fitzpatrick led the Bengals into Packers territory again later in the quarter, and Shayne Graham’s 43-yard field goal put the Bengals ahead 17-10 going into halftime.
Graham added a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter. Packers rookie Matt Flynn connected with running back Kregg Lumpkin for an 11-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left in the game.
Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson played into the second quarter, catching one pass for 10 yards.
Martin, one of Rodgers’ favorite targets in practice, left the game with a head injury in the second quarter. He walked off the field unassisted but didn’t return.