Bad News Bengals: Packers Sloppy Play Dooms Them in Loss

Peter BukowskiSenior Analyst ISeptember 20, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 15:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers waits for the snap behind center Scott Wells #63 against the Cleveland Browns during the preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 15, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The sky is not falling in Green Bay after the Packers lost to the Bengals 31-24. They lost one game early in the year to a hungry team coming off of a heartbreaking loss at home. They have no continuity offensively, and once they find it, they should be fine.

However, as a Packers fan, it hurts me deeply to say it, but, “I told you so.”

Green Bay took Cincinnati too lightly and got whooped.

I don’t care what the final score showed; that was not the margin of victory for the Bengals. Antwan Odom (5 sacks) and Cedric Benson (29 carries for 141 yards) had their way with the Packers' offensive and defensive lines respectively, and the Packers played without discipline or intensity.

Yes, they were within one play of scoring the tying touchdown and the end of the game was as bizarre as it was dissatisfying for Cheeseheads.

But the Packers again struggled to run the football, again struggled to protect Aaron Rodgers, and again failed to make any adjustments to get things sorted out. And again, Rodgers was errant most of the game until late.

Injuries to Nick Collins and Chad Clifton certainly didn’t help, but the struggles started long before they left the game.

The defense couldn’t stop Cedric Benson, who isn’t exactly Adrian Peterson. They got no pressure on Palmer—those interceptions were just great individual efforts by Charles Woodson.

This bigger, supposedly more improved offensive line couldn’t run the football consistently, and they couldn’t block Odom at all. The continuity we saw in the preseason was nowhere to be found as stupid penalties, poor execution, and absolutely dumbfounding playcalling at times have this team 10 steps back from where they were in August.

The team the Packers faced on Sunday is not a Super Bowl contender—it's not even a playoff team.  The Bengals should finish, at best, third in their division with a mid-level draft pick coming in April.

Green Bay is an immensely talented team, which makes the drops, overthrows, missed tackles, botched assignments, and bad calls even more frustrating.

Again, this isn't the end of the world for the Packers. They don't quit because they took a bad loss. Every team has a bad loss. The Pats, a favorite to win the AFC, lost to the Jets. The best team in the NFL by record last year, the Titans, lost to the Texans

Things happen, you can't play well every week. But this is such a far cry from what we expected, and so painfully close to what we saw last year, that it has to be discouraging.  

This was a Bengals team that was kicked in the stomach last week by Denver. Hindsight is 20/20 and you always want to get off to a good start, but going up 7-0 on this team rather than the other way around would have changed the entire complexion of the game. If not for drops, it could have very easily been the case.

This was supposed to be the part of the schedule during which the Packers pad their win total. Sure, that’s why you play the games on the field and not on paper, but this is a clearly inferior Bengals team we’re talking about and the Pack just couldn’t get it done.

If they couldn’t stop Cedric Benson, I’m not sure how they expect to stop Stephen Jackson in Week Three, and good luck with AP in the following game.

Once again, the Packers' defense failed to get the stops it needed, especially late in the game.

At one point, with the opportunity to end a Bengals drive, two Packers failed to bring down Benson in the backfield on a 3rd-and-1. The drive was extended and Green Bay lost precious time off the clock, not to mention let the Bengals get into field goal range to make it a two possession game.  

After last week we heard that the Packers' errors could be fixed. They were technique issues, or assignment issues.

Well, it’s about Week 19 of hearing about that from the coaching staff over the last season-plus.  At some point, there has to be some accountability.

Starting with guys like Jarrett Bush.  I have absolutely NO idea why Bush still has a job in Green Bay, or anywhere in the NFL. I hate to single out players, but if you’re a special teams player and you can’t play special teams, then you need to specially be shown the door.

That is the bottom line in the NFL: If you don’t produce, you don’t have a spot.

Allen Barbre bounced back...a little, and it was the offensive line's most consistent player, Chad Clifton, getting his hat handed to him by Antwan Odom.

We still haven't heard from A.J. Hawk. I haven't heard his named called once in two weeks. As a matter of fact, I can't remember hearing his name called since the commissioner called his name on Draft Day a few years ago.

If not for that day, Brandon Chillar would be starting and this defense would likely be better off with a more versatile, more explosive playmaker in the middle.  

I don’t want to oversell the importance of this game. A loss is a loss in the NFL, there’s no good loss and there’s no bad victory. Green Bay wasn’t going 16-0, but there are too many tough teams on this schedule for the Packers to give away games to inferior teams.

The problem today: The Packers didn’t give away this game, they got beat by an inferior team. They got outworked, outmuscled, outhustled, and outmatched.

That kind of sloppy effort might work most days against the Bengals, and it would probably be enough next week in St. Louis, but it sure as hell won’t be enough at the Metrodome in one of the most anticipated Monday Night games in the last decade.

Green Bay has two weeks to get it straightened out, or I guarantee an effort like today will get the Pack embarrassed in front of millions on Oct. 5.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.