It was as advertised in what Bengals radio voice Dan Hoard called "an instant classic."
But Sunday's Duel in the Sun at packed, raucous and drained Paul Brown Stadium between one of the NFL's rising young guns and one of the league's old and best sharp-shooters came down to the kickers who missed five field goals in the final 2:12 of regulation and overtime before the Packers' Mason Crosby ended it all with a 49-yard field goal with 1:55 left in OT to give Green Bay a 25-22 win.
Bengals rookie Evan McPherson, who missed the winner on a 57-yarder with 21 seconds left when he hit the right upright, missed a 49-yarder with 4:14 left in overtime that grazed past the flag on the left upright.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers pulled one last rabbit out of his hat with 2:09 left in overtime to set up Crosby. One play after edge Trey Hendrickson's sack knocked the Pack out of field goal range, Hendrickson came again and falling away from Hendrickson's rush, Rodgers flicked the Packers back into field goal range on a 15-yard floater to wide receiver Randall Cobb over the middle.
That made A-Rod 27 of 39 for 344 yards for a 102.9 passer rating. The Bengals' Joe Burrow, the young gun, was 26 of 38 for 281 yards on a 85.5 rating.
The Bengals survived Burrow's mistake on the first play of overtime, his second pick of the day. Burrow was looking for slot receiver Tyler Boyd running over the middle, but when Boyd settled, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell kept running, acted like the receiver and returned it 13 yards to the Bengals 17.
Unbelievably, Crosby, who came in with a streak of 27 straight field goals, missed his third field goal in the final 2:12, this one from 40. One of them was a 51-yarder at the gun.
In the middle of all that, McPherson missed a team-tying 57-yarder with 21 seconds left when he hit the right upright.
Crosby, one of the league's most reliable kickers, saw his streak end when he nudged a 36-yarder wide left in a 22-22 game. That came after a stout Bengals stand following running back Aaron Jones' 57-yard run through a blitz.
The Bengals had tied it with 3:27 left when running back Joe Mixon, used sparingly with an ankle injury, jolted an eight-yard touchdown run off the right side that he took to the perimeter and then cut back with a hellacious move on his sixth carry of the game that screwed a Packers DB into the ground. After Bengals backs ran the ball three times in the first half, Mixon finished with 33 yards on ten carries and Samaje Perine had 59 yards on 11 carries.
Then they tied it on the two-point conversion, a classic one-on-one basketball box-out by wide receiver Tee Higgins as Burrow back-pedaled and bobbed and weaved a beauty.
The Bengals tried to turn more late first-half magic into second-half Nirvana, but Burrow threw an interception on the third play of the seconbd half.
The Bengals tried a fake toss to Mixon on the left on first down and sent Burrow rolling out to the right. But he was heavily pursued and before he stepped out of bounds he tried to hit wide receiver Auden Tate deep at the Packers 20. But he couldn't get enough on it, threw it short and safety Adrian Amos picked it off.
That opened the A-Rod flood gates. After missing five of his first seven passes, he drilled 21 of his next 24 before Bengals slot cornerback Mike Hilton made a huge third-down pass defensed on Cobb in the red zone with about 11 minutes left in the game.
Top shots from the Bengals hosting the Green Bay Packers in Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season.
Cosby hit a chip-shot field goal in the last strand of sanity to give the Packers a 22-14 lead as Green Bay took control of the game after Burrow's opening drive interception. After running it just seven times in the first half, Green Bay made hay on the next drive with fives rushes that milked the clock for a field goal that made it 19-14. The game shifted at that point with the Packers wresting away the clock with a running game that generated 133 yards for backs Aaron Jones (104) and A.J. Dillon (30) on six yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Burrow's quarterback draw on fourth-and-two got negated on left guard Quinton Spain's hold and the Bengals' third-and-one stop was wiped out by a tripping call on nose tackle D.J. Reader and it was followed by Rodgers' 59-yard bomb to wide receiver Davante Adams during a monster day he had 186 yards on his first 10 catches and finished with 206 on 11 grabs by the NFL's receptions leader.
After getting rocked by Packers safety Darnell Savage on a hit by the same name on an unsuccessful third down scramble Burrow never thought about sliding, the packed PBS crowd of about 64,195 0 fell silent as Burrow lay on the turf late in the first half.
But first he bounded off the deck. Then he bounced out of the medical tent after he was cleared for a concussion. Then at the end of a brutal half of offense, Burrow cut the thing to 16-14 with 31 seconds left in the half with more last-minute magic to Ja'Marr Chase. For the third time in the last 37 seconds of a half this season, Burrow found Chase from least 34 yards out for a touchdown.
This one featured Burrow running back and forth behind the line of scrimmage patting the ball before he stepped up and flung one to Chase getting behind Savage. Chase caught it at the 20, Savage also blew the tackle and Chase walked it in for a career-long 70-yarder that gave him a career-high 105 yards on his way to 159 yards on six catches.
It capped a lackluster offensive first half in which the Bengals lost the balance they've had the last two games. Burrow was sacked as many times (three) in the half as the running backs ran it.
The Bengals' opening slows continued, so it's now four punts and a missed field on this season's first drives. This one was tough because it flipped field position. They were pinned on their own 7 and Burrow couldn't shove it to the 17 and got stoned on third-and-one.
Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie then flipped the field back on his first Bengals interception and returned it 42 yards to the Packers 42. Davonte Adams tried to double move him, but he recovered and Rodgers underthrew it on Awuzie's side of the sideline.
The Bengals' second possession was worst than the first. The first down pass was tipped at the line and on second down Perine couldn't pick up linebacker Krys Barnes and gave up the drive-killing sack.
But Perine more than made up for it on the next series when he was the centerpiece of the game's first touchdown drive. The Bengals went 51 yards on ten plays with Burrow hitting six of eight for 34 yards. Perine accounted for 26 of the yards on one run and three huge catches. One converted a fourth-and-three over the middle working on Amos. Another one went for 10 yards and the third one went for his first touchdown of the season when the Pack went with Chase on the goal line and left Perine wide open in the flat for a four-yard touchdown with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
The Bengals held Rodgers to two completions on his first seven passes, but the center did not hold on the drive after the Bengals' touchdown. He lit them on 6-for-6 passing and killed them on a third-and-12 when the Bengals left Adams wide open. Adams was untouched on a 34-yard catch and then on Rodgers' 12-yard touchdown pass, no one covered Dillon down the left sideline. When Crosby missed the PAT, the Bengals still had the lead and it was a heartbreak harbinger.
But the lead was not for long. The offense gave it right back on a three-and-out finished off on a sack by defensive end Preston Smith working on the right side and defensive tackle Kenny Clark pushing the interior. The Bengals held Rodgers to a Crosby field goal on a nice third down where Awuzie had Adams covered and Hendrickson had the running back Jones covered.
They lost Awuzie, one of their best defenders this season, late in the first half. They couldn't get to halftime with their first pair of starting cornerbacks since Oct. 13, 2019 and Rodgers and Adams went nuts at the end of the half. They teamed up for a five-yard touchdown pass on a back-shoulder lob working against cornerback Trae Waynes to make in 16-7 with 1:07 left Adams went into the locker room with a full day's work on six catches for 117 yards. The Bengals pass rush hardly got close to Rodgers as he went 17 of 24 for 203 yards.
Awuzie came back in but they lost Jordan Evans when their most experienced linebacker and one of their core special teamers when he suffered a knee injury.