Bengals leap to 31-24 win


Rey Maualuga and Roy Williams bottle up Packers tight end Spencer Havner. (AP photo)

Updated: 4:25 p.m.

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Two weeks and two heart-stoppers for the Bengals.

Fortunately for Cincinnati, this one went the Bengals way as Green Bay ran out of time at the Bengals 10 and the Bengals hung on for a 31-24 victory to even their mark at 1-1 on the season.

After Shayne Graham booted a 41-yard field goal with 1:56 left to give the Bengals a 31-21 lead, it looked like the Bengals had put the game away. But on Green Bay's next possession, the Packers elected to kick a 41-yard Mason Crosby field goal with 45 seconds remaining to cut the Bengals lead to 31-24.

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Packers at their 42 but the Packers were out of timeouts. A 22-yard completion to Jermichael Finley put Green Bay at the Bengals 35 and after Rodgers spiked the ball there were 17 seconds remaining.

The next play was a 25-yard completion to Packers wide receiver Donald Driver to the Bengals 10, but with the Packers rushing to the line to spike the ball, the offensive line was called for a false start and by NFL rule, the remaining time was automatically run off the clock, the game was over and the Bengals had the win. 

Earlier, Chad Ochocinco took the Lambeau Leap and the Bengals took the lead over the Packers at 28-21 with 1:08 left in the third quarter when he made a 13-yard touchdown catch with a shoestring, rolling catch over the middle on third down.

After he ran away from cornerback Tramon Williams, that gave The Ocho four catches for 91 yards as the Bengals scored their most points since they had 38 in the 2007 finale. 

The Bengals used a club-record-tying five sacks from defensive lineman Antwan Odom to hold on to the lead and the ball with 7:08 left and staring at a third-and-two from their 42. Following a timeout, running back Cedric Benson broke three tackles in the backfield and broke outside to the left for 14 yards as the Bengals stalked their first-ever win at Lambeau and one of the biggest in head coach Marvin Lewis' seven seasons.

But with the clock ticking under five minutes, the Bengals couldn't get that killing first down on third-and-two when Benson got stormed for just one-yard by linebacker Aaron Kampman and linebacker A.J. Hawk, and Lewis opted to punt it with rookie Kevin Huber and he pinned the Pack on their 15.

Odom, of course, finished it off with his fifth sack, tying Eddie Edwards's record set in the 1980 finale against Cleveland.  

Locked in a 21-21 game and the Packers driving, the Bengals got a big play from their rookie SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga when he popped Packers running back Ryan Grant after he caught a pass. The ball bounced out and defensive tackle Pat Sims jumped on the ball at the Bengals 38.

Palmer then embarked on a 12-play drive that consumed 7:06 and featured Benson as he got his fourth 100-yard game as a Bengal with 141 on his 29 carries.

The Bengals had the lead at the end of the third quarter, when they are 38-6-1 under Lewis.

Bengals offense come alive

The Bengals offense finally broke out of its doldrums and despite two Palmer interceptions to cornerback Charles Woodson that turned into touchdowns they went into halftime tied at 21.

That's because Palmer led a whacky 10-play drive that took 6:22 and ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Henry on third down that tied it with 1:28 left in the half.

Then for the second straight half Odom came up with a sack that pushed foes out of field-goal range for his third sack of the season and matching his last year's total.

Crosby's 55-yard try at the gun went wide left.

Trailing 21-14 and looking at the whole thing spinning out of control, the Bengals were facing a third-and-34 backed up in their own end when Palmer flung a screen to tight end Daniel Coats, he picked up 23 yards and when he fumbled wide receiver Laveranues Coles hopped on it for the first down.

Palmer and running back Cedric Benson worked the flea-flicker for a wide-open  Ochocinco for a 44-yard gain, his longest catch since the '07 finale.

The Bengals then survived their 10th penalty of the game (85 yards), a hold on right guard Bobbie Williams, for Palmer's second touchdown pass of the game and first to Henry since December 2007.

But it was a tractor pull all the way.

After Palmer got sacked when defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins appeared to beat left tackle Andrew Whitworth inside, Palmer tried to go across the field to his right sideline to Coats but Woodson read him all the way and no one touched him as he went down the sidelines from 36 yards out to break a 14-14 tie.

And it turned around a game the Bengals had just grabbed a hold of. Rookie punt returner Quan Cosby gave the Bengals a jolt of juice with his 60-yard return that set up Palmer's one-yard sneak that tied the Packers at 14 with 10:21 left in the first half.

It was the longest punt return since Peter Warrick's 68-yard touchdown against Kansas City on Nov. 16, 2003 and it put the ball on the Green Bay six. The offense survived a false start called on left guard Evan Mathis with Benson's eight-yard run up the middle, a familiar sight Sunday.

On the play after Palmer's touchdown, the Bengals rode the momentum to Maualuga's first NFL sack, a blindside shot that caused a fumble but was recovered by Green Bay right tackle Allen Barbe.

The Bengals were stunned for the second week in a row when the Packers scored two touchdowns in a 61-second span to take a 14-7 lead with 2:22 left in the first quarter, but Cosby got them back on the rails.

After Green Bay had just tied the game at seven, Woodson stepped in front of Ochocinco for an interception as The Ocho broke long and Palmer threw it short and the 10-yard return put Green Bay at the Bengals 11. It took just two plays for the Pack to get the go-ahead touchdown, the last one a three-yard touchdown run by running back Ryan Grant in which he cut back right up a gaping hole in the middle.

A minute before, Rodgers converted a third-and-goal on a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donald Driver on a scramble Rodgers bought time and wedged the ball into Driver on the sidelines.

The big play was a third-and-two from midfield when Rodgers was able to duck and dodge the Bengals pass rush long enough to find a wide open tight end in the middle, Spencer Havner, on a 21-yard play for his first NFL catch. 

Bengals jump to early lead

The Bengals stuck first when wide receiver Laveranues Coles didn't drop this one.

After his three-drop game last week, a wide-open Coles caught Palmer's five-yard touchdown pass off play-action to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead with 8:31 left in the first quarter.

And there was reason the Packers went for the run fake.

Benson rammed for 40 yards on his first four carries and his biggest one was a 12-yard romp up the middle that took the Bengals out of a first-and-15 from their 44 after Coats was called for a false start. Then on a five-wide set that included rookie running back Bernard Scott, Palmer hit Ochocinco on an 11-yard inside slant.

But the interception got the Bengals offense wildly off track. On the next series they picked up consecutive penalties, a false start on Ochocinco and a hold on Whitworth that blew up that drive for rookie Kevin Huber's 61-yard punt.  

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