GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Cincinnati Bengals came so close to breaking through for a win.
Instead they found a new way to lose. The offense wasn’t entirely to blame.
A defense that had contained quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ potent offense in the first half fell apart late in a 27-24 loss in overtime on Sunday.
“A disappointment is not finishing a football game now,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
The Bengals are 0-3 for the first time since 2008.
Mason Crosby kicked the decisive 27-yard field goal with 6:26 left in overtime to complete the Packers’ comeback from a 21-7 halftime deficit. The game-winner was set up by Rodgers’ 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison that came on a free play.
Defensive end Michael Johnson was whistled for offside on third-and-10 from the Packers 21. Officials let the play continue and the two-time NFL MVP found Allison on about a 40-yard pass before the receiver beat a couple defenders for more yards.
Rodgers also connected with Jordy Nelson for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 24, completing a 12-play, 75-yard drive. Cornerback Dre Kilpatrick narrowly missed batting away the bullet thrown by the quarterback into the front right corner of the end zone.
“Far too many chunk plays against a good quarterback like that. That ended up being the difference in the football game,” Lewis said.
At least the offense showed signs of life, especially early in the game.
A.J. Green caught a 10-yard scoring pass on the game’s opening drive for Cincinnati’s first touchdown after two frustrating weeks for the offense. Bill Lazor made his debut as offensive coordinator for the fired Ken Zampese.
Andy Dalton was 21 of 27 for 212 yards and two scores for the Bengals. Dalton was targeting his best playmaker early, just like the star receiver had hoped following the Week 2 loss to Houston. Green caught 10 of 13 targets for 111 yards.
Then the Packers started getting to Dalton a little more in the second half. The Bengals’ backfield-by-committee rushing attack combined for 30 carries for 110 yards, with rookie Joe Mixon leading the way with 18 carries for 62 yards.
But a slip-up in the fourth quarter epitomized Cincinnati’s day.
The Bengals had driven from their own 9 to the Packers 27 with 4:31 left. But Mixon fell in the backfield on third-and-1, forcing Dalton to hold on to the ball for a 1-yard loss.
Randy Bullock followed with a 46-yard field goal to make it a 24-17 lead with 3:51 left in regulation.
Too much time for Rodgers.
“I tried to get as much as I could, but it’s unfortunate in that situation the way we were moving the ball, the way we were driving down,” Dalton said. “And you get that first down and the game could be completely different.”
Especially if the defense had a couple late stops.
But Rodgers had the Bengals playing on their heels at Lambeau Field. The defense got to Rodgers for six sacks, including 2 1/2 for linebacker Carl Lawson, but the Packers’ protection shored up after halftime.
“We were able to get a lot of good pressure on him and that’s what we need to do,” Lawson said. “We just need to close it out. We cut his head off, but he was still hanging by a piece of skin. That’s what killed us.”