Packers-Bengals Report Card

Not surprisingly after Sunday's 31-24 debacle against Cincinnati at Lambeau Field, the Packers no longer are A students. Which unit got an F? Read on ...

PASSING OFFENSE: F — Aaron Rodgers padded his passing numbers in a pair of last-ditch, hurry-up drives against Cincinnati's prevent defense in the final 2 minutes, leading to a field goal and a near-score-tying touchdown before the clock expired. Before then, the Packers' passing game was an unmitigated disaster. Rodgers absorbed a career-high six sacks. Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom had five of those to match a club record, capitalizing in the second half with four sacks after Daryn Colledge replaced an injured Chad Clifton at left tackle. The porous pass protection wasn't all on Colledge, however. Rodgers was guilty of holding the ball too long on at least two of those takedowns. Although he was spared from an interception, Rodgers misfired on several downfield throws, and his receivers compounded the ugliness by dropping four balls (bringing the total to nine in two games). Two of the drops came in the game-opening series, by tight end Jermichael Finley and top wideout Greg Jennings. Rodgers went Jennings' way five times, but the receiver didn't have a catch for the first time in his four-year career.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D — Four pressure- or coverage-induced scrambles by Rodgers accounted for 43 yards, or almost half of the Packers' rushing output of 89 yards. Ryan Grant picked up the other 46 in a mostly lackluster effort, as he averaged just 3.3 yards in his 14 carries. Grant's best moment came in the first quarter with two straight runs of 8 yards to kick-start an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. The latter tote of that sequence was a stretch play in which Finley sealed off the edge. Things went uphill, in a negative sense, from there for the running game. Grant's last 10 touches amounted to 26 yards, and he had only three attempts in the second half. Fullback John Kuhn had a nice lead block on Grant's inside, one-cut 4-yard touchdown following an interception return by Charles Woodson deep into Cincinnati territory.


Chad Ochocinco fights for yards against Aaron Rouse and Jarrett Bush.
Mike Roemer/Getty Images
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus — The passing numbers for Carson Palmer in a game that was more or less decided by his arm weren't that great. Sure, he had three touchdown passes, but he threw for a meager 185 yards on 15-of-23 accuracy and in the early going had two bad throws to the outside picked off by an awaiting Woodson, who returned one 37 yards for a touchdown. Yet, a handful of big plays converted by Palmer at key moments haunted the Packers. Start with a third-and-34 from inside the Cincinnati 10 that was a seemingly innocuous screen pass to tight end Daniel Coats but unbelievably covered 38 yards after Laveranues Coles fell on a forward fumble caused by defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins on Coats' big run-out. The next play, Jarrett Bush, in the game for injured safety Nick Collins, was caught flat-footed as the deep man on a flea flicker that went for 44 yards to Chad Ochocinco and led to a score-tying touchdown late in the first half. Bush later was lax in zone coverage on a 23-yard dart on third-and-12 to Ochocinco over the middle that set up a 13-yard touchdown throw from Palmer to Ochocinco at the expense of nickel back Tramon Williams on third-and-11 to put the Bengals up for good at 28-21.

RUSH DEFENSE: D — The tone for Green Bay's abysmal day of stopping the run was set in the Bengals' opening series. Cedric Benson, who was hardly a difference maker against the Packers when he played for the rival Chicago Bears, pounded away with three consecutive runs of 12 yards each. Linebacker Nick Barnett and safety Aaron Rouse, starting in place of an injured Atari Bigby, were caught out of position on two of those early statements. Benson went on to rack up 141 yards in a heavy diet of 29 carries for a per-rush average of 4.9 yards. He finished with five big-play runs of at least 12 yards, including a 14-yarder on third-and-2 in the fourth quarter that featured four missed tackles (two behind the line of scrimmage). In all, the Bengals had 151 rushing yards against an overmatched 3-4 defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus — Save for a back-to-back sequence of a 45-yard field goal made by Mason Crosby with 45 seconds left and Crosby's onside kick that was recovered by Williams to give the Packers a desperation shot to try to tie the score, the production from the units was atrocious. Punter Jeremy Kapinos' net average was a minuscule 24.2 yards (compared to a 43.2 gross average), as diminutive returner Quan Cosby ripped off runbacks of 60 and 32 yards deep into Green Bay territory, leading to 10 points for the Bengals. The latter return with the game clock under 3 minutes put Cincinnati in position to kick a field goal that put it ahead 31-21 and proved to be huge, considering what transpired thereafter. The Packers' wayward punting unit also included two false-start penalties against Bush in his role as a gunner. Will Blackmon was ineffective on kickoff and punt returns in his first game action since suffering a bruised thigh in the preseason. Crosby, feeling no ill effects from an abdominal strain that flared up after the season opener, badly hooked a 55-yard field-goal try to end the first half.

COACHING: D — Realistic expectations that the Packers would start the season 3-0 before heading to Minnesota on Oct. 5 for their first grudge match against Brett Favre and the Vikings were shot down in an embarrassing effort Sunday. The Packers, not the Bengals, played like a team that has been coined the Bungles for a litany of pratfalls in recent years. Coupled with the half-dozen quarterback sacks and the four dropped passes on offense and innumerable missed tackles and assignment errors on defense and special teams, Green Bay was penalized 11 times for 76 yards. The Packers also allowed the Bengals to convert 9-of-14 third-down situations. Green Bay was a fundamentally flawed outfit in all three phases, perhaps a reflection of a coaching staff that didn't have its charges sufficiently prepared for this game. Although his hands were tied with the absence of pass protection, McCarthy's didn't have a good day as the play-caller for the offense. He insisted on chucking the ball down field, rather than going with safer short passes to help Rodgers in the face of the constant pressure, and all but abandoned the run game in the second half in a nip-and-tuck contest. Meanwhile, having inadequately prepared backups at safety and left tackle as the injuries mounted reared its ugly head.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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