Pete Dougherty, Tom Silverstein and Aaron Nagler discuss the Green Bay Packers' thrilling 27-24 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals. (Sept. 24, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - The crowd at Lambeau Field launched into a frenzy Sunday when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with wide receiver Jordy Nelson on a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter because the comeback was finally complete — almost.
The pass from Rodgers to Nelson pulled the Packers within an extra point of tying the Bengals with 21 seconds remaining in regulation. It meant that kicker Mason Crosby had to step forward and do his part.
“Obviously, this was an important one,” Crosby said. “We needed to get this win at home. Getting a win like that, just kind of battling through a bunch of different things, those are the types of wins that set your team up and are good for your team.”
Crosby drilled the extra point that forced overtime and then — after the Packers’ defense forced a three and out — capped the victory with a 27-yard field into the south end zone. Green Bay 27, Cincinnati 24.
“Geronimo (Allison) got me in a good spot,” Crosby said. “It wasn’t the hardest game-winner I’ve had, but all of them are important. Gosh, what a way to end it. Drawing them offsides and then getting that free play and (Allison) making everything happen there to get us in position to go out and kick it. That was just a gutsy, great win by this team.”
The Packers got into position with a trademark free play after Rodgers spotted the Bengals with 12 men on the field. Allison took off down the left sideline, virtually uncovered, and Rodgers lofted a beautiful throw that hit him in stride. By the time the Bengals brought him down, Allison had galloped 72 yards to the Cincinnati 7-yard line.
Two plays later, Crosby stepped up for his game-winning field goal attempt. The Bengals tried to ice him — just as they did on the extra point attempt late in the fourth quarter — but Crosby didn’t care.
“Just take a breath, step away and then go back and do it again,” Crosby said. “I kind of anticipated it, figured they would do it, but I was locked in and ready to go. They did them early enough that I just stepped away and regrouped and went back and knocked it through.”
Streak snapped: Not since 2009 had Rodgers watched one of his interceptions returned the other way for a touchdown — at least not a touchdown that stood.
Defensive tackle Nazair Jones of the Seahawks picked off Rodgers in Week 1 and returned the ball 64 yards for a touchdown. An illegal block above the waist wiped that touchdown off the scoreboard to extend Rodgers’ streak a little longer.
Sunday, however, the Bengals completed what the Seahawks nearly finished.
Cornerback William Jackson undercut a pass intended for wide receiver Jordy Nelson early in the second quarter and returned the ball 75 yards for a touchdown. In doing so Jackson joined former Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Tanard Jackson as the only players to notch a pick-6 on Rodgers.
“That was a great play,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “I asked him what they ran on the play and he said they ran a straight out and he just jumped it. For a young player that was a big play, especially on a guy like that. (Rodgers) doesn’t give up those kind of plays.”
Pitch and catch: When Lance Kendricks turned around in the corner of the end zone during the first quarter Sunday, he was surprised to find himself all alone.
Rodgers tricked the Bengals' defense with a play-action fake, drawing 11 defenders to him. It left his tight end wide open, which should’ve been a good thing.
Sometimes, Kendricks said, it doesn’t feel that way.
“I was too open,” he said.
Kendricks, thankfully, caught his quarterback’s pass. For the Milwaukee native and former Wisconsin All-American, it was his first touchdown with the Packers. He had only two catches Sunday, but his second was for 51 yards and set up another touchdown.
His long run and catch were more impressive. The touchdown, certainly, was more memorable. Rodgers’ fake sold the pass, but Kendricks had an important role in getting himself open.
“My job,” Kendricks said, “was to block the end until that guy rushed. That’s what I did. I blocked him, he rushed, got open. Easy pitch and catch.
“The easiest ones to catch are the hardest sometimes.”