Bengals leave Packers defenseless

The Cincinnati Bengals scored on their first five possessions of Monday night's game, and Charles Woodson — who pocketed $10.5 million in bonus money, then blew off the off-season program — got lit up.

First, the good news from Monday's preseason game at Cincinnati.

No Packers starters suffered a serious injury.

No Packers were struck by the lightning that prolonged the agony for an extra 40 minutes.

As Porky Pig famously says, "That's all, folks."

For those Packers fans who can see a silver lining even in the wall of a hurricane, for those Packers fans want to see positive coverage about their team on this Web site, feel free to stop reading at this point.

Coaches use the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. More than any of the other preseason games, this one is supposed to foreshadow how things will shake out during the regular season.

Well, if you suffered through at least the first half of the 48-17 debacle, then I don't need to tell you about the worst-case scenario for how this season will end up.

Of course, there's no reason to get too down after one game, just like there was no reason to get too excited after last week's rout of Atlanta.

But, there were plenty of moments that had to leave first-year coach Mike McCarthy wondering what he had gotten himself into.

For instance, the 48 points allowed was the most in a preseason game in franchise history. In fact, the Packers had allowed more than 40 points in a preseason game just once in their 342-game exhibition history: in 1982 against New England.

Heck, the 1997 team allowed 47 points total in five games.

Of course, the defense doesn't deserve all the blame.

Brett Favre's fumble on the fourth play of the game was returned for a touchdown. His interception on the next series led to a field goal.

The running game, even with the debut of Ahman Green, went nowhere fast.

But there's no defense for the way the defense played. Sure, the Bengals have a heck of an offense, but with the personnel decisions Ted Thompson made this off-season — drafting A.J. Hawk and signing free agents Ryan Pickett, Marquand Manuel and Charles Woodson — the Packers should expect, no, demand better.

The defense started slowly, which continues a troubling trend. In the first preseason game, the Chargers marched 64 yards in five plays for a game-opening touchdown. In the second preseason game, the Falcons marched 80 yards for a game-opening touchdown. On Monday, the Bengals scored on all five first-half possessions.

Highlighting, or lowlighting, the Packers' defensive woes vs. Cincinnati was Woodson, who couldn't have stayed close to his own shadow.

After either Hawk or Manuel — Hawk shot to the flat, tight end Reggie Kelly made an inside move and Manuel was too late to break up the pass — got beat for the Bengals' second touchdown that made it 17-0, the Bengals went to work on Woodson.

After the Bengals converted a third-and-11 and a third-and-12, Carson Palmer hit receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh on what should have been a harmless, short completion. Instead, Houshmanzadeh broke Woodson's weak tackle attempt and practically trotted into the end zone to make it 24-0.

On the next drive, Woodson covered Houshmanzadeh on a short route but fell asleep on the play. Houshmanzadeh turned upfield, left Woodson in his wake and caught a 28-yard pass. A couple plays later, some guy named Tab Perry faked an outside route, which faked Woodson out of his proverbial jock, and made an easy 15-yard touchdown reception.

Maybe Woodson just had a bad day. But if you get $10.5 million in bonus money, then decide to blow off the offseason training program to do your own thing — even though your own thing has led to four straight underachieving and injury-plagued seasons — you're not allowed to have a bad day.

You can count the number of solid defensive performances on three fingers.

— With Al Harris blanketing Chad Johnson, the Pro Bowl receiver had just one pass thrown his way, and Harris was all over it.

Cullen Jenkins was the only Packer to mount any pass rush.

— Michael Montgomery blew past standout left tackle Levi Jones with speed and then overpowered powerful running back Rudi Johnson for a big loss.

Beyond that, it was ugly. Here are just a few things that jumped out:

— It was vintage Nick Barnett, making tackles 8 yards downfield or running himself either out of plays or into blockers.

— Anyone see rookie linebackers Hawk or Abdul Hodge? Didn't think so.

— Anyone see Ahmad Carroll? Well, I did see him on the bench, with Michael Hawkins manning the nickel corner in the second quarter. Hawkins actually did a fine job before he forgot the "bump" part of bump-and-run and allowed a long second-half touchdown.

— The only time I saw Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was when he was sent into pass coverage and missed a tackle that allowed the Bengals to convert a third-and-long.

— Rookie safety Tra Boger may have punched his ticket out of town with a missed tackle that led to a touchdown.

If there's one bit of good news concerning the Packers' defense, it's this: They open the regular season against Chicago, and the Bears' No. 1 offense has scored six points in three preseason games.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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