It was a fitting end to a game with eight turnovers that the final score of the game was a 58-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Green Bay was leading 30-27 with about 5:00 remaining and facing a 4th-and-inches form the Cincinnati 29 -yard line when rookie running back Jonathan Franklin attempted to leap over the pile to salt the game away for the Packers.
Franklin forgot to bring the ball with him. As he leaped into the air, Franklin lost the ball and Bengal cornerback Terrance Newman scooped it and ran for the 58-yard touchdown and the final score of a 34-30 Packer loss.
The Cincinnati Bengals took advantage of four Green Bay turnovers while overcoming four of their own in Cincinnati.
"We learned some valuable lessons and survived one today that you don't survive very often," CincinnatiHead Coach Marvin Lewis said.
Cincinnati scored 21 points off Packer turnovers, while Green Bay manged just 13 points off the four Bengal turnovers. Both teams added four sacks each.
Green Bay had their chances.
The Packers managed just six points despite being inside the Bengal 5-yard line on three different occasions.
On the ensuing possession, after the Newman return, Green Bay drove to the Bengal 20-yard line, this time facing 4th-and-5 after a batted down pass on third down. Defensive lineman Michael Johnson avoided a cut block, and knocked down the fourth down pass from Rodgers, sealing the Bengal win.
Last week James Starks became the first Packer running back to rush for 100 yards in a game in nearly three years.
Already without starting running back Eddie Lacy, (concussion), Starks hurt his hamstring at the end of the first half.
That opened the door for Franklin.
In the second half Franklin was dynamic. Showing both patience and a burst few other NFL running backs have, Franklin ran for 103 yards on just 13 carries and his first NFL touchdown. He also caught 3 passes for 23 yards.
Another Green Bay streak and NFL record ended this Sunday.
Rodgers hadn’t thrown two interceptions in a game for 34 regular season and three playoff games. An NFL record number of games without throwing two interceptions. He had two of the Packer four turnovers via interception on two under thrown balls.
The scoring started on the first drive of the day. Cincinnati drove 80 yards on 10 plays. Rookie running back Giovanni Bernad leaped over fellow rookie, Green Bay cornerback Micah Hyde for a 3-yard touchdown.
Only 0:12 elapsed before BenJarvus Gren-Ellis ran for a 2-yard touchdown, set up by Green Bay return man Jeremy Ross mishandling a short kick-off.
Green Bay reeled off the next 30 points.
Mason Crosby nailed a 41-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
Safety M.D. Jennings was able to return a fumble 244 yards for the next score. The fumble was caused when linebacker Clay Mathews diving, flying tackle of Bernard knocked the ball out. It was a great play; a poster shot and typical Mathews play.
Crosby connected on two short field goals after the Packers could not get touchdowns inside the Bengal 5-yard line.
The third quarter started with a nine play 80-yard drive capped by Franklin's 2-yard touchdown scamper.
James Jones was the last Packer to score when he found himself wide open in the end zone from 7 yards out.
"It was a frustrating game," Rodgers said. "We spot `em 14, score 30 in a row and they get 20. I played poorly and the defense played well enough for us to win."
Cincinnati scored the final 21 points.
The first of those points came on a beautiful pump and go move by wide receiver A.J. Green on Packer cornerback Sam Shields for a 20-yard touchdown.
Beyond this one play Shields had Green bottled up all day. Green had just four catches for 46 yards.
Following Rodgers second interception deep in Cincinnati territory, the Bengals drove 95 yards. Capped by an 11-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Andy Dalton to a wide open Marvin Jones. Jones turned cornerback Tramon Williams around on an inside out move, and was wide open for the score.
The Newman fumble return was the last score of the game.
"I saw Reggie pick it up and I was trying to get a block and somebody was trying to tackle him," Newman said. "I was screaming: Pitch it! Pitch it! Next thing I know, I saw the ball pop loose. It took a nice little bounce where I could just grab it and run."
When he reached the end zone, Newman jumped into the stands in celebration. Apparently Bengal fans aren't as accomodating as the Cheeseheads to their players.
"I know they were a big Lambeau leap team, so I wanted to jump up there," Newman said. "I saw a bunch of fans over there. I don't know what came over me. I'll never do that again."
Rodgers finished 26-of-43, for 244 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, and 64.5 quarterback rating. It was his worst quarterback rating since December 12, 2010.
Starks managed 55 yards on 14 carries before his injury.
Jordy Nelson had game highs of 8 catches and 93 yards.
Mohammed Sanu led Cincinnati with 4 catches for 68 yards.
Bernard finished with a team high 50 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Green Bay has a much needed bye next week after suffering more injuries during this game, see notes for details.
Cincinnati travels to Cleveland, (1-2).
As I mentioned above Franklin looked dynamic, even special. It will be difficult not to have him involved now on a weekly basis.
Not to sure why he was third string, could be his lackluster pre-season or maybe his practice habits. But the coaching staff cannot ignore the kind of patience and explosiveness he showed on this day.
Bernard has the same, if not better, quickness as Franklin. He lacks the same patience but it is easy to see this game featured two very talented rookie running backs.
Jermicahel Finley was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first quarter.
Clay Mathews left in the third with a hamstring injury.
Starks was out at the end of the first half, also with a hamstring injury.
Add these three to an injury list that includes, Lacy, Morgan Burnett, Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward, and John Kuhn.
Every team has injuries, but for two years in a row now Green Bay has suffered more than most to significant contributors.
From Elias: In his career, Aaron Rodgers is now 5-17 in games decided by 4 points or less.
From ESPN: It was the first time in 14 years that a team won after allowing an opponent to score 30 consecutive points in a game.