Fans give Rodgers boost; Pack falls to Cincinnati
The Green Bay Packers lost their exhibition opener to Cincinnati Monday night, 20-17 at Lambeau Field, but it was a great night for Aaron Rodgers.
He played the first quarter, and completed 9-15 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception on a perfect throw that receiver Chris Francies bobbled.
To hear the national media say it, the whole country was waiting for Rodgers to fall-flat on his face, as the Packers started a quarterback other than Brett Favre for the first time in any game since 1992.
But the fourth-year pro got a standing ovation when he took the field and he responded with a quarterback rating of 79.
"I thought it was a testament to our fans and the kind of fans that we have just when the offense took the field for the first time, the standing ovation. I think that speaks volumes about the Green Bay Packer fans," said Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy to reporters after the game.
Rodgers' touchdown went to James Jones on a 30-yard play in which the receiver's helmet got knocked off on a hard hit by Marvin White.
Rodgers told reporters that it was a great night for him.
"It was a good night, the reception I saw in the fans, the signs in the stands, it was very positive and encouraging," said Rodgers.
Overall McCarthy said he was pleased with Rodgers' performance,
"I thought Aaron did a very good job with the mechanical part of the game. I thought he threw the ball off his back foot with accuracy. I thought he was decisive. I thought he put together a good performance for us to build off of," said McCarthy.
Brandon Jackson started at running back for Green Bay in place of the injured Ryan Grant. He had 44 yards on six carries.
On numerous occasions Jackson's second effort allowed the second-year back to gain extra yards.
"I thought his second reaction, just breaking tackles, that is the Brandon Jackson that we all know and have watched grow up in front of us, so I think you'll see more of that as we go forward," McCarthy said.
The Packers played without seven starters and the Bengals without four.
Kregg Lumpkin scored Green Bay's only other touchdown late in the game on an 11-yard pass from Matt Flynn. Flynn completed 12-21 passes on the night for 97 yards.
Fellow rookie Brian Brohm went 8-17 for 70 yards. He threw an interception on his first play.
Cincinnati didn't score until the second quarter, when their No. 1 offense carved up the Pack's second string defensive line.
Carson Palmer threw a 14-yard strike to Ben Utecht and Chris Perry had Cincy's other touchdown on a six-yard run.
Packers' receiver Ruvell Martin left in the second quarter with a head injury, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy says he'll be okay.
Despite the loss, McCarthy said he saw improvement in all phases of the game.
"I didn't like the start of the whole offense as a unit on the first series with a false start. We had a mental error that resulted in a sack and then we had a dropped ball for an interception," McCarthy said.
"But other than that, I liked the tempo. I thought the productivity was there," he added.
On the defensive side, the Packers No. 1 defense completely shut down Cincinnati.
The defensive backs and linebacker corps were effective in stripping the ball out of the hands of receivers.
On the second string, linebacker Abdul Hodge showed that he was back after missing last year with knew problems and he seemed to be everywhere on the field at once.
"It's been a long road back. I've been training hard over the summer and spring. I just wanted to come out and have a good game and to come out run around and have some fun," said Hodge.
The Packers' next exhibition game is on Saturday night at San Francisco.