It’s customary for Marvin Lewis to show his players a motivational movie clip on the night before a game. I’m guessing that he has rarely chosen one that proved to be more prophetic then what the Bengals watched before their 34-30 roller coaster win over Green Bay.
“I believe everything stemmed from last night when Coach Lewis showed a clip of a Muhammed Ali-Joe Frazier fight,” Rey Maualuga told me after the game. “The whole fight, Frazier had him on the ropes and kept beating him down, beating him down, and everything was about not quitting. Part of the success that we had today was about not giving up.”
It would have been easy to fold after Cincinnati’s offense committed turnovers on four straight possessions for the first time since the 1994 Shula Bowl (Don’s Dolphins beating Dave’s Bengals 23-7). After bolting out to a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game, Cincinnati surrendered 30 straight points to trail by 16 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
“A lot of times when things aren’t going well, guys are on the sidelines bickering with one another – there was none of that today,” said Terence Newman. “I think that was the key to us playing the way we did.”
“I think it all goes back to the first week,” Adam Jones told me. “We were all so disappointed by the way we lost our composure in Chicago. Today everybody kept their composure and there was no point where we thought we were going to lose the game. I was reading all of the Tweets (after week one) about how dumb of a team that we are, but good teams fix their mistakes and leave the past behind.”
The offense broke out of its funk and went on 65- and 95-yard scoring drives to pull within three points in the fourth quarter. And after a successful replay challenge by Marvin Lewis turned a Packers first down into a fourth-and-one with 4:01 to go, Michael Johnson knocked the ball away from rookie running back Johnathan Franklin and Terrence Newman carried the bouncing ball 58 yards for the game-winning score.
“Thank God that Coach Lewis challenged that play,” said Domata Peko. “We were able to get them in a fourth-and-one there and we just executed the game plan. We penetrated every gap, (Franklin) tried to jump over the pile, and we got the ball out and scored. If we keep making plays like that, we can go a long way this season.”
It wasn’t just one or two plays; the Bengals defense held Aaron Rodgers to 244 yards and a pedestrian passer rating of 64.5. That extended Cincinnati’s NFL-best streak of going 18 games (including playoffs) without allowing a 300-yard passer, even though they have faced Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Phillip Rivers, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler, and Ben Roethlisberger (three times) during that stretch.
“Those are the games that you live for – you know what I mean?” said Jones. “We had to hear about the number one offense and this and that, and I commend these guys in here because nobody was worried about that. Zim and Marvin had a marvelous game plan, and this is a sign of a good team that’s getting closer to being a great team. We have a lot of things that we still have to fix, but it’s good to know the character of this team. Nobody gave up, and everybody kept playing hard.”
“That was a huge measuring stick for us,” said Peko. “They came in as the number one offense in the league with a Pro Bowl quarterback – I don’t even know how many times Aaron Rodgers has been to the Pro Bowl. The key to the game for us was to get after their offensive line. A big shout-out to all my D-linemen here. We played our hearts out, we were able to get after the quarterback, and that really helped us get the W.”
“A lot of people didn’t give us a chance coming into this game,” said Newman. “We took that personal on defense because we don’t think we’re bad, and we aren’t going to lay down or let them come in and take whatever they want. They will have to work for whatever it is they get.”
After enjoying the Ali-Frazier movie clip on Saturday night, the Bengals can look forward to watching the game film from a great comeback win on Monday.
“Everybody had a part in this – even the offense,” said Jones. “You can say what you want about what they did, but they came through when it was time to come through.”
“It was a big win for us,” said Maualuga. “The Packers are one of the best teams in the NFL. Coach says, “if you want to be a great team, you have to beat great teams.’ This is the first step in going in the direction that we want to.”
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