On a day Joe Burrow threw, Tycen Anderson intercepted.
Anderson, last year's fifth-rounder from Toledo who missed his entire rookie year, responded to his massive battle for a roster spot with two interceptions in the first half, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Packers' 36-19 victory in Friday night's preseason opener at Paycor Stadium.
Bengals kicker Evan McPherson, who vowed after Wednesday's "bad," joint practice that "Friday would be good," drilled all four field-goal attempts, including a 51-yarder. He also stopped a big return when he made a shoulder shove out-of-bounds at his own 47 after his pooch kick.
Anderson's 43-yard pick-six highlighted a strong half for a re-shuffled safety spot.
Dax Hill, the only Bengals' starter on either side, broke up the season's first drive when he ranged to the right sideline from centerfield and batted down a go ball headed for wide receiver Christian Watson getting a step on rookie cornerback DJ Turner II. Rookie Jordan Battle, hamstrung early in training camp by a hamstring injury, had two tackles, one for a loss, and batted down a pass at the goal line.
When the Bengals traded up in the fifth round to grab Anderson, it marked the seventh time in franchise history the Bengals had gone up in a round and the rocket-fast Rocket showed why on Friday.
Aided by defensive tackle Domenique Davis' hellacious inside move that pressured Cincinnati-bred quarterback Sean Clifford into a hurried throw that allowed Anderson to cut in front of wide receiver Dontayion Wicks, Anderson went in untouched with about nine minutes left in the half to cut the Packers' lead to 14-13.
A 33-yard run by running back Chris Evans knifing behind right guard Cody Ford and right tackle Jackson Carman set up McPherson's go-ahead 39-yard field goal.
Then Anderson gave the Bengals a golden opportunity with 1:04 left in the first half when he wrestled a catch out of the hands of tight end Tucker Kraft over the middle at the Green Bay 36.
But one play later, quarterback Jake Browning threw too high on the right sideline to rookie wide receiver Shed Jackson and the ball was tipped for an interception by cornerback Carrington Valentine of Moeller High School and Kentucky and with 47 seconds left his fellow Cincinnatian Clifford (St. Xavier) was able to do what the Bengals couldn't and drove for a score as the half died.
Clifford hooked up with Wicks on a 47-yard bullet over the middle thrown between three defenders and after he froze rookie linebacker Shaka Heyward on a 14-yard scramble, he flipped a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Davis with 22 seconds left in the half to give the Packers a 21-16 halftime lead.
Browning got the start in his backup Burrow derby with Trevor Siemian and his first drive wasn't exactly a free buffet.
Defensive end Jeff Gunter's block-in-the-back wiped out wide receiver Trent Taylor's 23-yard punt return and on the second snap Browning got sacked on a cornerback blitz by Keisean Nixon. That meant rookie punter Brad Robbins' first NFL punt virtually came on the back line of his end zone and the Packers emerged with field position when he wedged a linerish 44-yarder that was returned eight yards.
Packers quarterback Jordan Love. picking up the 31-year torch from Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, wasted no time cashing it for the game's first score with seven plays, the last one a perfect nine-yard lob to wide receiver Romeo Doubs where cornerback Sidney Jones IV had good coverage but didn't get his head around in time.
Love and Clifford were able to move the ball with intermediate throws over the middle in the first half with Love pitching seven of ten for only 46 yards, but Clifford came home to sift 15 of 20 for 193 yards.
Browning's first hand in the backup derby was a 49.9 passer rating on 95 yards from 10 of 17 passing.
Penalties doomed the Bengals in the second half. After rookie running back Chase Brown showed that top-in-the-nation-elusiveness on a screeching 21-yard check-down pass over the middle to put the ball on Green Bay 18, Brown took a five-yard loss and rookie right guard Jaxson Kirkland took a 10-yard penalty for illegal use of hands and they needed McPherson's fourth field goal to cut it to 24-19.
But cornerback Marvel Tell III's unnecessary roughness flag on Clifford on a sideline scramble put the Pack in the red zone and set up a touchdown.
The Cincy backup defense couldn't stop the Green Bay run game in the second half. After allowing Division II undrafted rookie running back Emanuel Wilson an 11-yard touchdown run up the middle, Wilson then scooted outside on a dive play and went 80 yards for the final touchdown.
But there were good moments for the Bengals rookies on offense in the second half. The slippery, explosive Brown had two catches for 29 yards, rookie wide receiver Andrei Iosivas had four catches for 50 yards, and Robbins drilled a punt 65 yards. It was a touchback, which Robbins didn't do once all last year at Michigan, but the net was plus-45 yards.
Princeton's Iosivas, the first Ivy League player drafted by the Bengals this century, was a formidable 6-3 target. He caught and blocked well all night and almost made the play of the game on third-and-17. Siemian gave him a chance in the end zone and Iosivas leaped, yanked the ball away from cornerback William Hooper and had one foot in, but only half of the other foot.
Domenique Davis, who pressured for Anderson's pick-six, re-surfaced with 3:49 left when he recovered linemate Raymond Johnson's forced fumble.
Like Browning, Siemian wasn't able to get the long ball going and finished with an identical passer rating of 49.9 on 15 of 26 for 121 yards and an interception.
Bengals tight end Tanner Hudson, who has a foot up on the third tight end job with his hands, looked good with four catches before he left with a concussion. Linebacker Joe Bachie left early with a chest injury.