If last week's stunning victory had the feeling of a team flushing last year down the toilet, then Sunday's stunning loss to Cincinnati had the look and smell of backed-up sewer.
The Bengals dominated the line of scrimmage and made practically every key play in the second half to beat the Packers 31-24. The go-ahead score late in the third quarter provided added insult, with Chad Ochocinco scoring on third-and-goal from the 11 and taking a Lambeau Leap by some Bengals fans in the corner of the end zone.
With many fans having already headed for the parking lot, the Packers moved within seven points on a field goal with 45 seconds remaining, then recovered the onside kick. On third-and-10, Rodgers hit Jermichael Finley for 22 yards to the Bengals' 35, then connected with Donald Driver to the 10.
With the final seconds ticking away and no timeouts, the offense hustled to get off one final play. The Packers beat the clock but were flagged for a false start -- apparently on Greg Jennings, according to what referee Ed Hochuli told coach Mike McCarthy -- with 1 second remaining. By rule, the game was over.
The Packers' struggling offense went from bad to worse after left tackle Chad Clifton was carted off the field in the third quarter. Daryn Colledge swung out from left guard to left tackle but couldn't stop defensive end Antwan Odom, who had five sacks and dealt a ton of punishment to Aaron Rodgers. His final sack came on third down in the final 3 minutes, when the Packers trailed by 28-21. The second long punt return of the game by Quan Cosby set up another field goal that made it a 10-point game.
With the scored tied at 21 early in the third quarter, the Packers had an impressive drive going until Ryan Grant was drilled by rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga after a short reception and fumbled the ball back to the Bengals. Cincinnati drove 62 yards, and the fourth of its third-down conversions on the drive was the touchdown to Ochocinco.
An offense that showed so much firepower in the preseason managed 212 total yards in the first 58 minutes before finishing with 311. Grant was held to 46 yards on 13 carries and Rodgers was sacked six times and absorbed 10 hits. The special teams yielded two big returns and the defense could not stop Cedric Benson (141 yards, 4.9 per carry) or come up with a big play after Charles Woodson set up one touchdown and scored another with first-half interceptions.
On the first play of the third quarter, left tackle Chad Clifton had to be carted off the field with an injured ankle. Fortunately, X-rays were negative, but without Clifton, Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times in the second half by Antwan Odom.
Antwan Odom's five sacks are the most ever allowed by the Packers and matched the Lambeau Field record of five recorded by Vonnie Holliday against Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2002.
Zero: The number of catches made by Greg Jennings. Jennings had the ball thrown to him five times, including a between-the-numbers drop on third-and-9 on the first series of the game. Jennings had caught at least one pass in 44 consecutive games.
From McCarthy: "We didn't play very well today and my disappointment is to not play your best football at home. It was a major emphasis for our football team in the offseason. We have not played to the standard that we need to play at home, especially with this great home-field advantage that we have with our fans, our stadium and so forth. That's the most disappointing part for me. When you emphasize something for your football team that doesn't get done, that falls solely on the responsibility of the head coach."
The other things you need to know
-- Chad Clifton left with an ankle sprain, which is good news. X-rays were negative, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins exited in the second quarter with a chest injury but the severity was not known. Aaron Rouse (for injured Atari Bigby) and Jarrett Bush (for Collins) were the safeties for most of the game.
-- With 44 touchdowns, Donald Driver ranks sixth in franchise history after passing Boyd Dowler. Charles Woodson's five defensive touchdowns is tied with Bobby Dillon and Darren Sharper for second in team history.
-- The Packers are plus-five in turnovers for the season. Ryan Grant's third-quarter fumble was the Packers' first turnover of the season.
-- Tramon Williams' recovery of an onside kick was the first for the Packers since Jason Hunter against the Jets on Dec. 3, 2006.
-- The Lions squandered a 10-0 lead and lost to the Vikings 27-13. Brett Favre completed 23-of-27 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns as Minnesota improved to 2-0. Chad Greenway intercepted rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford twice. Minnesota is 2-0; Detroit is 0-2.
-- The Bears may have salvaged their season by rallying past the defending champion Steelers 17-14 in Chicago. Jay Cutler hit rookie Johnny Knox for the tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, then led the Bears (1-1) down the field to set up Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal to win it with 15 seconds to go.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.