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Stumblin’ and Fumblin’ in Cincinnati (09/25/2013)
By Dave DeLano

Who would have thunk that the Green Bay Packers would score 30 unanswered points against the Cincinnati Bengals and still lose? Unbelievably the Packers endeavored to do exactly that, as they fell to the Bengals by a score of 34 – 30 in a horribly sloppy game.

The Packers found themselves down 14 – 0 before the offense took a single snap. Jeremy Ross committed an untouched fumble on a kick-off return which accounted for one of those two touchdowns. Although the Packer offense would struggle throughout this contest, the Packer defense rose to the occasion in the second quarter. At one point the Bengals committed four turnovers on four consecutive possessions. Clay Matthews forced two of those turnovers, one of which led to a touchdown scamper by M. D. Williams.

But the Packers could only convert 13 points from the turnovers, a bad omen for sure. Aaron Rodgers, who played at a record-setting level last week, was not himself against the Bengals. Nonetheless, the Packers’ offense rallied to a 16 – 14 lead at halftime. The Packers quickly scored two touchdowns at the start of the third quarter to bring the score to 30 – 14, 30 unanswered points and a 16-point lead.

Then the wheels started to come off the train. Injuries to Jermichael Finley, Clay Matthews and James Starks took a toll, and Rodgers and Company were not in synch at all. Johnathan Franklin came in to replace running back Starks and he did a nice job until he fumbled away a critical fourth and short, which was run back for a touchdown and proved to be the game breaker. Frustration settled in, too, as Rodgers was playing so uncharacteristically bad that I thought he might have been concussed from one of the many helmet-to-helmet contacts initiated by an undisciplined Bengals team. The officiating stunk as much as the Bengals’ numerous cheap shots Sunday. Rodgers and Mike McCarthy were even shown jawing at each other. It was a mess.

In all, the Packers committed four turnovers, including two interceptions by Rodgers. This game proved that even when 30 unanswered points are scored, committing four turnovers on the road won’t get the Packers into the win column. This was a sloppy, uncharacteristic game for Rodgers and the Packers. No doubt the injuries that have piled up affected the outcome, but injuries are no excuse. This is a game the Packers should have won. The Packers were not mentally prepared for this game and that is on McCarthy. He needs to right the ship and he has two weeks to accomplish that.

The Packers have a bye week next week and they need it badly to get their wounded healed up and get back in a winning mindset. Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward have been sorely missed in the Packer defensive backfield. Jermichael Finley’s absence for most of this game was a factor in the outcome. The whole team needs a reset and that is what shall happen before play resumes against the Detroit Lions at the friendly confines of Lambeau Field on October 6. Coming into Lambeau the Lions will be an underdog, and their presence in Lambeau over the last decade or so has regularly lifted the spirits in Packer nation. 


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