Aaron Rodgers, Packers Overcome 14-Point Deficit to Beat Bengals in OT

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2017

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Aaron Rodgers is a Super Bowl winner and two-time league MVP, but it took until Sunday to figure out the Cincinnati Bengals and overtime.

Rodgers had never beaten Cincinnati or won an overtime game in his entire career, but he changed both stats with a 27-24 victory in the interconference showdown at Lambeau Field. Green Bay overcame a 14-point deficit at halftime and clinched the overtime win with a 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison and field goal by Mason Crosby to move to 2-1.

Cincinnati is still searching for its first victory of the season at 0-3 after the gut-wrenching loss.

Rodgers' pass to Allison was far from his only clutch play as Green Bay completed the comeback. His touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson with 17 seconds remaining set up the overtime period, and he finished with 313 passing yards, three touchdowns and just one interception.

The combination of Nelson (52 yards and two touchdowns) and Allison (122 receiving yards) was too much for the Bengals secondary with the game hanging in the balance. Their performances helped the Packers overcome their lack of a running game, as Ty Montgomery led the team with 35 yards on the ground.

While this was Rodgers' first win over the Bengals in his illustrious career, Sunday was only his third chance with the previous losses coming in 2009 and 2013. He earned the win shorthanded, as the Packers announced wide receiver Randall Cobb, offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, cornerback Davon House, linebackers Jake Ryan and Nick Perry and defensive lineman Mike Daniels were all out with injury.

Rodgers appeared headed for an 0-3 record against the Bengals when he threw a pick-six to William Jackson III in the second quarter. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, it was the signal-caller's first pick-six since 2009.

New Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor had Cincinnati rolling in the first half, as Andy Dalton threw both of his touchdown passes before intermission. Dalton finished the day 21-of-27 for 212 passing yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Ten of his completions went to A.J. Green, who finished with 111 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Green's touchdown came on the opening possession and marked the first time the Bengals found the end zone all season, as Tom Oates of Madison.com noted:

Dalton then countered Rodgers' touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks with a touchdown throw to Giovani Bernard, and Jackson's score gave the Bengals a 21-7 halftime advantage.

After sleepwalking through the first half, Green Bay came out of the locker room with purpose and scored on the first possession of the second half. Rodgers' connection with Nelson trimmed the margin to a single possession, and momentum was firmly on the home team's side when Randy Bullock missed a field goal.

Green Bay's defense also played better in the second half, locking down thanks to consistent pressure on Dalton. Both offensive lines struggled at times throughout the game, as Green Bay allowed six sacks and Cincinnati gave up three.

Despite the offensive line breakdowns, the Bengals turned to Green and Joe Mixon (62 rushing yards) to churn the clock on a field-goal drive in the fourth quarter. However, they couldn't get in the end zone and left the door wide-open for an all-time great.

Rodgers made the Bengals pay with the 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Nelson's reception and then finished the job in overtime.

Cincinnati will have a chance to secure its first win of the season against another winless team in the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. The Packers will look to parlay their momentum from Sunday into a Thursday night victory over the archrival Chicago Bears.