Quan Cosby's two long punt returns were key plays to the Bengals victory. (AP photo)
Posted: 6:45 a.m.
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The golden day for the Bengals special teams almost became blue in the last minute when the Packers onside kick was recovered at the Green Bay 43 with 44 seconds left after Packers cornerback Tramon Williams pounced on Mason Crosby's dribbler.
The members of the hands team didn't appear to move and Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons thinks he knows why.
"The ball just died. And then all of a sudden it took a funny bounce," Simmons said after the 31-24 win. "We'll have to look at it."
But his other units carried the day. Rookie punt returner Quan Cosby popped punt returns of 60 and 32 yards while rookie punter Kevin Huber let go with a 61-yard punt and later pinned the Pack on their 15 with 4:02 left and the punt coverage allowed no yards.
"Kevin also made a great catch on a high snap on an extra point," Simmons said. "It's nice to see those young guys come through in key parts of a game. Quan showed really good patience on both of this runs."
Safety Chinedum Ndukwe helped clear the way for Cosby's 60-yarder down the left sideline, a play that pulled the Bengals out of a 14-7 hole early in the second quarter and put the ball on the Packers 6 and set up Carson Palmer's one-yard sneak for a touchdown.
"Coach Simmons really hyped up their gunners," Ndukwe said. "The return was set for that side and we got some good blocks."
It was the longest punt return by the Bengals since Peter Warrick returned a 68-yarder for a touchdown Nov. 16, 2003 against the Chiefs. Rookie defensive end Michael Johnson made a nice peel-back block on the second one, a critical 32-yarder that set up Shayne Graham's 40-yard field goal with 1:56.
"These guys have two of the best gunners we'll see," Simmons said of the Pack. "Plays like that. It's all blocking. And they blocked their butts off."
Besides Ndukwe and Johnson, other blockers were linebackers Brandon Johnson and Rashad Jeanty, running back Brian Leonard, and cornerbacks Leon Hall and Morgan Trent.
The Packers lost one of those gunners when defensive back Jarrett Bush had to play more from scrimmage after safety Nick Collins got hurt in the second half.