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Game Preview: Bengals Host The Packers In A Week 5 Showdown


Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on FOX-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Jonathan Vilma (analyst) and Lindsay Czarniak (reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

The game also will air nationally on Sports USA Radio. Broadcasters are Josh Appel (play-by-play) and Mark Carrier (analyst).

Setting the scene: The Bengals this week host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati will be looking to ride the momentum of a thrilling 24-21 win over Jacksonville last Thursday night that was clinched with a walk-off, game-winning FG by rookie K Evan McPherson.

"That was a tremendous win for the entire team," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. "The crowd was electric, but we didn't give them much to cheer for early on. It was tough sledding in the first half, but we turned it around."

The first half belonged decidedly to the Jaguars, who converted 15 first downs and racked up 240 yards of offense before taking a 14-0 lead into the locker room. The Bengals looked to be on the verge of falling behind 21-0 with a minute to play in the half, but LB Logan Wilson, Cincinnati's leader in both tackles (40) and INTs (four), stopped Jags QB Trevor Lawrence at the one-yard line on fourth down to thwart the scoring threat.

"It was the turning point of the game," Taylor said. "It was about to be 21-0 right before the half — that's a tough hole to dig out of. "They had 15 first downs right out the gate, and the defense was gassed with a short week — that all factors into it for both teams. We hung (the defense) out to dry on offense, so that was huge for them to bow up and stop it."

If the first half belonged to the Jaguars, the second half belonged to the Bengals' offense. Specifically, it belonged to Joe Burrow, who completed 17 of his 20 second-half attempts (85 percent) for 253 yards and two TDs (152.1 rating). Burrow led Cincinnati to scores on all four of its second-half possessions (TD, TD, TD, FG), the first of which went to TE C.J. Uzomah just four plays intothe second half.

"We knew we didn't play great in the first half," Burrow said. "It is what it is. But we had all the faith in the world that we were going to come out and play well in the second half. We've been a second-half team this year."

Uzomah, the third-longest tenured Bengal, had the most statistically productive game of his seven-year career with Cincinnati. The 2015 fifth-round pick posted career highs in both receiving yards (95) and TDs (two), and also played a central role in perhaps the most important offensive play of the night.

With a little more than a minute remaining and the game deadlocked at 21, Burrow audibled at the line of scrimmage into a jailbreak screen that went to Uzomah, who darted 25 yards to the Jacksonville 21-yard line. That allowed the Bengals to drain the remaining clock and set up McPherson's 35-yard game-winner two plays later.

"I had to do a double take on that one," Uzomah said of the screen pass. "Tyler Boyd was looking at me too, like, 'What did he just call?' "We knew going in that this defensive coordinator was coming in from the Ravens, and that's what they like to do — run Cover Zero in critical situations. But Joey Franchise (Burrow) was just back there dealing 'dots' and knowing and understanding what the defense was doing. He called up that play and just made something happen. He gave me a wink after I caught it, and I was just like, 'This guy here, he's reckless! (laughs)"

This week, the Bengals face a stiff test in the form of the 3-1 Green Bay Packers, who have won three straight games. Green Bay's offense is led by last year's NFL MVP in QB Aaron Rodgers, while the defense ranks sixth league-wide in yards allowed per game (311.5).

"You always want to start strong. We're 3-1 — we're in a good spot," Burrow said. "We're just going to keep building on it. "I'm excited to have a bye weekend. It's going to be fun to watch some football, and kind of relax and get a head start on Green Bay."

The series: The Bengals lead 7-6, having won three of the last four meetings. The Packers' won the most recent meeting 27-24 at Lambeau Field in 2017.

As the home team, the Cincinnati is 4-1 against Green Bay, including 2-0 at Paul Brown Stadium and 2-1 at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field. As the road team, the Bengals are 3-5 against Green Bay. Two of those road wins occurred at Milwaukee County Stadium, where the Packers played two to four games per season through 1994. The Bengals are 1-5 at Lambeau Field.

Bengals-Packers connections: Packers C/G Josh Myers is from Miamisburg, Ohio (Miamisburg High School) and played at Ohio State University ... Packers TE Josiah Deguara played at the University of Cincinnati ... Bengals CB Trae Waynes is from Kenosha, Wis. (Mary D. Bradford High School) ... Packers WR Randall Cobb and LB Za'Darius Smith (Injured Reserve) both played at the University of Kentucky ... Packers CB Jaire Alexander played at the University of Louisville ... Bengals LS Clark Harris originally was a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2007 ... Bengals DT Mike Daniels (practice squad) originally was a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2012, and was with Green Bay through the 2018 season ... Bengals CB Tony Brown (practice squad) was with the Packers from 2018-19 ... Bengals senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner was on the Packers' coaching staff from 2003-05 ... Bengals strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese played at the University of Wisconsin from 1998-2001 ... Packers assistant defensive backs coach Ryan Downard is from Lima, Ohio, and coached at the University of Toledo (2013) and Bowling Green State University ('16-17) ... Packers defensive quality control coach Justin Hood coached at Capital University from 2014-15 ... Packers wide receivers coach Jason Vrable played (2003-06) and coached ('07) at Marietta College.

Burrow bounces back: Bengals QB Joe Burrow returned to the field this season a little more than nine months after his rookie campaign was cut short by a left knee injury. Over the offseason, a hot topic of debate centered on how quickly Burrow could return to game action, and then if and when he would return to form. He answered both of those questions almost immediately.

Shortly after the injury last season, Burrow vowed publicly that he would be Cincinnati's starting QB in the 2021 season-opener. In Game 1 vs. Minnesota, he not only made good on that promise, he went on to post then-career highs in passer rating (128.8), completion percentage (74.1) and yards per attempt (9.67). Later, Burrow led Cincinnati on a seven-play, 46-yard drive in overtime that set up a game-winning FG as time expired.

So far this season, Burrow has completed 78 of 107 passes (72.9 percent) for 988 yards, nine TDs and four INTs (113.8 rating).

Boyd looking for third thousand: Bengals WR Tyler Boyd so far this season has a team-high 23 catches for 259 yards and a TD. The 2016 second-round pick of the Bengals is looking this season to top 1000 receiving yards for what would be the third time in his career. That would make him just the fifth Bengal ever with as many 1000-yard seasons.

Boyd ended his 2020 season with 841 receiving yards, just 159 shy of reaching the 1000-yard mark for what would have been the third consecutive season. Boyd had been aiming to become just the fourth Bengal ever to reach 1000 receiving yards in at least three consecutive seasons. He was on pace to do just that before he left Game 14 vs. Pittsburgh in the first quarter with a concussion, and then missed the following week at Houston. He also was limited to just 10 games with the team's No. 1 QB, Joe Burrow, who suffered a season-ending injury in November.

Boyd stands as one of nine Bengals ever to reach 1000 receiving yards in a season, and one of six to hit the mark more than once. WR Chad Johnson's seven 1000-yard seasons stand as the most in team history, followed by WRs A.J. Green (six), Carl Pickens (four), Cris Collinsworth (four) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (two). WRs Eddie Brown, Tim McGee and Darnay Scott each had one 1000-yard season.

'Uno' for six: Bengals rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase, who is the first player in Bengals history to wear uniform No. 1 and has thus earned the nickname "Uno" among fans, has gotten off to perhaps the best start of any rookie WR in team history. Through four games, "Uno" has 17 catches for 297 yards and four TDs (tied for second in NFL).

Chase told CBS sideline reporter Melanie Collins in Game 3 at Pittsburgh that he keeps the statistics of other rookie WRs as the background on the lock screen of his phone as motivation. Right now, he stands above them all in both receiving yardage and TDs. Chase's ability to find the end zone has been particularly impressive thus far. At 21 years old (born March 1, 2000), he stands as the youngest player in NFL history with at least four receiving TDs in his first three career games. That one-upped Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who at 21 years old had three TDs in Minnesota's first three games in 1998.

Chase also stands as one of just nine players in NFL history with at least one receiving TD in each of their first three games.

Bengals carry "Mo" into halftime: The Bengals this season have scored a combined 21 points in the last two minutes of the first half. That total is tied for third among all NFL teams. When divided out among Cincinnati's four games, that's an average of 5.2 points per game in the last two minutes.

Logan tied for NFL lead in INTs: Bengals second-year LB Logan Wilson has turned heads this season as one of the team's top defensive players. The 2020 third-round pick has three INTs so far this season, tied for second-most in the NFL. No other linebacker has more than one INT. Wilson's three INTs already are the most by a Bengals LB in a season since Odell Thurman's five in 2005.

Wilson has also been strong against the run. His 40 tackles lead the team and rank tied for sixth leaguewide. He has led Cincinnati in tackles in three of the team's four games this season. As a rookie last season, Wilson was eased into the regular defensive rotation and then battled injuries late in the year. This season, he was assigned the green dot on his helmet as the team's designated communicator, and has been credited by teammates for being a vocal leader.

25 points does the trick: Since 2011, the Bengals own a 52-5-2 record when scoring 25 or more points. That's good for the second-best winning percentage (.898) in the NFL when topping the 25-point mark over that span.

The Bengals are 6-4 under head coach Zac Taylor (1-0 this season) when reaching the 25-point plateau.