Eric Goska column: Packers finish up-and-down contest on down note

Sep. 22, 2013

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Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall makes an interception in front of Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

Out of a hole

Since 1921, the biggest leads the Packers have forged on the road after finding themselves behind by 14 or more points in the first quarter.

36-1449ersDec. 13, 1959
30-14BengalsSept. 22, 2013
35-20VikingsNov. 29, 1981
23-17LionsDec. 15, 1985
26-21YanksOct. 28, 1951


The Packers fell into two holes at Paul Brown Stadium.

Green Bay extricated itself from the first. It stumbled facedown into the second.

Mike McCarthy’s team rallied as few in Packers history have done when saddled with a 14-point first-quarter deficit on the road. His club then frittered away a 16-point advantage and fell hard, 34-30 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

For Green Bay, the up-and-down loss was as frustrating as any in recent memory. The team could be forgiven for seeking a third hole — one to crawl into and contemplate what might have been.

The Packers under McCarthy are more likely to be ahead than behind at the end of the first quarter. In 114 regular-season games prior to the matchup with the Bengals, his club was ahead 53 times, trailed 32 times and was tied on 29 occasions.

In those games in which it led, Green Bay went 42-11 (.792). When trailing, its record was 13-19 (.406).

In all that time, McCarthy never had found his team down by more than 10 after one quarter. He and Ray Rhodes had been the only coaches in Packers history who could make that claim.

The Bengals changed that, scoring two touchdowns in a span of 12 seconds to go up 14-0 with 9:08 remaining in the first quarter.

Giovani Bernard scored the first. The rookie running back ran 3 yards to cap the Bengals’ 10-play, game-opening drive.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis got the second. He scored from 2 yards out after Jeremy Ross muffed the kickoff that followed Bernard’s TD.

Falling that far behind so quickly is rare. In 92 previous seasons, the Packers trailed by 14 or more points after one quarter in regular-season games on the road just 30 times, going 4-24-2.

Defense spurred Green Bay’s climb in Cincinnati. The unit forced four first-half turnovers.

Three of the takeaways led to 13 points. Mason Crosby followed Sam Shields’ interception with a 41-yard field goal. M.D. Jennings returned a Green-Ellis fumble (forced by Clay Matthews) for a touchdown. Crosby knocked through a 19-yard field goal seven plays after Brad Jones recovered a fumble on a sack of Dalton by Matthews.

Crosby closed the half with a 26-yard field goal to put Green Bay up 16-14.

The offense then got in rhythm, scoring on its opening two drives of the second half. Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin scored from 2 yards out and Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones on a 7-yard reception.

Jones’ catch put the Packers up 30-14. It finished off a run of 30 unaswered points.

Only once previously had the Packers fashioned a bigger lead after facing a first-quarter deficit of 14 or more points on the road. In 1959, Vince Lombardi’s team turned the tables on the 49ers 36-14 after trailing 14-0 at Kezar Stadium.

Lombardi’s men didn’t squander their advantage. McCarthy’s did.

Green Bay was whistled for three personal fouls down the stretch. Tight end Ryan Taylor, linebacker Nick Perry and defensive back Tramon Williams all cost the team 15 yards.

The Packers turned in another uninspiring fourth-quarter performance. Rodgers threw an interception (his second of the game) and Franklin lost a fumble. Both miscues were turned into touchdowns by Cincinnati.

Extra point

The Packers have been outscored 39-7 in the fourth quarter. That’s the second-worst deficit after three games in team history. Only the 1981 club (48-10) was outclassed to a greater degree.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports