GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers burned another defence deep with a free play. The Cincinnati Bengals found their offence and a new way to lose.
Mason Crosby kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6:26 left in overtime set up by Rodgers’ 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison, and the Green Bay Packers rallied to beat Cincinnati 27-24 on Sunday.
Crosby’s kick completed the Packers’ comeback from a 21-7 halftime deficit.
On third-and-10 from his 21, Rodgers took advantage of yet another free play after defensive end Michael Johnson was whistled for offside. 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.
"Luckily I put it in a good spot and G-Mo did the rest," Rodgers said.
Crosby, a veteran kicker, finished it off for the Packers (2-1).
The winless Bengals (0-3) won the toss in overtime but went three-and-out on their opening drive. It was so loud at Lambeau Field that they had to call timeout before their first overtime snap.
Rodgers thrived under the pressure.
He connected with Jordy Nelson for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 24. Cornerback Dre Kilpatrick narrowly missed batting away the bullet thrown by the quarterback into the front right corner of the end zone.
"We rushed the quarterback, keeping him in. We did a lot, but when we broke down, (Rodgers) made plays," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
Rodgers finished 28 of 42 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Allison had six catches for 122 yards.
"I thought Aaron played one of his best games," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought he was tremendous today."
The Packers flipped the script after the Bengals controlled the first half.
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 offence. Bill Lazor made his debut as offensive co-ordinator for the fired Ken Zampese.
Andy Dalton was 21 of 27 for 212 yards and two scores. The Bengals were desperate to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2008. But they couldn’t finish the Packers off in the second half.
"A disappointment is not finishing a football game now," Lewis said.
Green Bay’s defence generated a little more pressure on Dalton in the second half, and rookie safety Josh Jones gave the injury-laden defence a boost with two sacks and 12 tackles.
Rodgers shook off his early struggles to guide the Packers to another win. He was sacked six times, mostly against just the Bengals’ four-man rush, though the protection shored up after halftime.
Rodgers threw just his second career pick-six — and his first at home — when William Jackson returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown for a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
"Oh, we took a step as a football team," McCarthy said. "This always pays forward when you go through adversity and you have success."
At least Cincinnati’s offence finally got into the end zone.
Green’s score snapped a season-opening streak of 25 possessions without a touchdown. Until Sunday, they were only able to muster three field goals over the first two weeks, both losses.
Rodgers’ only other interception returned for a score came on Nov. 8, 2009, by Tanard Jackson in a 38-28 loss at Tampa. … It was the warmest kickoff for a Packers home game at 89 degrees.
Most members of each team interlocked arms on their respective sidelines when the national anthem was played before kickoff.
"We’ve got to stick together and show people that it doesn’t matter what skin colour or where you come from, we can stand as one. That’s what we did today," Green said.
Across the field, Rodgers stood at the sideline locking arms with tight end Richard Rodgers and backup quarterback Brett Hundley. Three Packers sat on the bench during the anthem: tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, along with rookie cornerback Kevin King.
The Packers played without seven key players, including defensive lineman Mike Daniels (hip), outside linebacker Nick Perry (hand) and starting cornerback Davon House (quad).
On offence, left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and receiver Randall Cobb (chest) were inactive. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga made the start after being listed as questionable but did not return after aggravating his ankle injury in the second half.
Bengals: At the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 1.
Packers: Host the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.