Packers vs. Bengals: Takeaways from Green Bay's 34-30 Loss to Cincinnati
Green Bay was down by 14 points early but battled back to go up by a score of 30-14 late in the third quarter. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as a late fumble that was returned for a touchdown was ultimately the final nail in the coffin for the Packers.
Here are a handful of takeaways from Green Bay's loss to the Bengals.
No Game Will Be as Crazy as This Game
If there is one word to sum up the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers, it's the word "crazy."
It started out with the Bengals scoring 14 points in a total of 12 seconds. After that, the Packers scored the next 30 points of the game. Finally, Cincinnati roared back by scoring the final 20 points of the game.
This was such a sloppy, back-and-forth game that you could really consider both teams losers. It's unlikely we'll see another game as crazy as this one anytime soon.
What Happened to the Real Aaron Rodgers?
Aaron Rodgers' performance in Week 3 wasn't anything like the dominant Rodgers everyone is used to seeing.
Rodgers finished Sunday's game with only 244 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. This game was the first time since the 2010 season that Rodgers has had multiple interceptions, according to ESPN.
While Rodgers did have to deal with horrible play from his offensive line, that simply isn't a good enough excuse for such a poor performance. The Packers will only go as far as Rodgers can take them, and this game was absolute proof of that.
When Rodgers struggles like he did in this game, the Packers simply don't have a good chance of winning.
Johnathan Franklin's Big Day
After not playing a single snap in either of the Green Bay Packers' first two games, Johnathan Franklin was spectacular against the Cincinnati Bengals.
With Eddie Lacy unable to play due to a concussion and James Starks leaving early in the game with a knee injury, Franklin was forced into the lineup. The result was 103 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards and one touchdown.
While there were mistakes (more on this later), Franklin's play was definitely a good sign for the youngster's career. Don't be surprised if this solid performance gives him more opportunities to shine in the weeks to come.
Johnathan Franklin's Big Mistake
As good as Johnathan Franklin was on Sunday, it's simply impossible to overlook his major mistake.
The Green Bay Packers were facing a 4th-and-inches late in the fourth quarter while up by three points. The play called was a handoff to Franklin up the middle. As Franklin leaped into the pile to attempt to pick up the first down, the football came out.
Cincinnati recovered the fumble and returned it for a touchdown, which proved to be the game-winning score for the Bengals. You simply can't do that at such a key time if you want to be a successful running back in the NFL.
While there were certainly many good things from Franklin this week, it's this one big mistake that will be remembered.
Pass Protection Continues to Struggle
While the Green Bay Packers' offensive line has looked good in the ground game the past two weeks, the same can't be said for how they've looked in pass protection.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was once again pressured like crazy by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was sacked four times, had numerous passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and was forced into rushed passes over and over again.
If the Packers want to showcase their high-powered offense on a weekly basis, they need to keep Rodgers upright. With Rodgers already being sacked 10 times through the first three weeks, the entire offensive line needs to start playing better.
Injuries Are Piling Up
It started out with just safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Casey Hayward being the key players the Green Bay Packers were missing. Then running back Eddie Lacy was knocked out of last week's game against the Washington Redskins.
This week, however, the injuries got taken to an entirely different level. Per Rotoworld, Jermichael Finley left the game in the first quarter with a concussion. James Starks injured his knee in the second quarter, and Clay Matthews was also forced out of the game with a hamstring injury.
Even Johnathan Franklin was forced out of the game for a few plays. With all of these injuries quickly piling up, the Packers simply don't have the depth to be a truly competitive team.
Clay Matthews Gets Back to His Dominating Ways
Before Clay Matthews was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury, he has having a rather dominant game. Considering he graded out in Week 2 as the third-worst 3-4 outside linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), seeing Matthews dominate was quite enjoyable.
Matthews finished the game with only two tackles, but he also recorded one sack and two forced fumbles. His diving tackle of BenJarvus Green-Ellis that forced the fumble was an absolutely beautiful play.
When Matthews plays like he did against the Cincinnati Bengals, he's nearly unstoppable. Hopefully his hamstring injury isn't too serious, because watching Matthews dominate is fantastic football.
An Improving Secondary
If you were to ask anyone which unit of the Green Bay Packers struggled the most through the first two weeks, the only answer you'd get is the secondary.
However, that certainly wasn't the case in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, the secondary was the strongest unit for much of the first half.
The big winner in this game was cornerback Sam Shields, who completely shut down star receiver A.J. Green for the first two quarters. Even though Green finished the game with four receptions, 46 yards and a touchdown, Shields kept him in check for the majority of the game.
Even safeties M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian were making solid plays in the secondary. All in all, it was a promising performance for the Packers' defensive backfield.
The Bye Week Couldn't Come at a Better Time
The Green Bay Packers have a bye week in Week 4. That's great news for this team.
From injuries to overall poor play, the Packers need this bye week in the worst way. Had the Packers had to play next week, it's hard to imagine them being very competitive against the majority of NFL teams.
However, with this week and the following week to rest, recover and get ready for Week 5, this bye week couldn't come at a better time for Green Bay.