The Green Bay Packers won their first preseason game of 2012 by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 27-13. Aaron Rodgers and company gave the Bengals all they could handle in the first half by scoring 17 points. Even though Rodgers and his receivers seemed to be on different pages at times, it was good to see the offense move the ball with authority.
The same cannot be said for Green Bay’s backups in the second half, but just when all hope appeared to be lost Jamari Lattimore, who is currently on the bubble, ran back a 27-yard interception for a touchdown that secured the win. The victory was much needed but there is still plenty of work to do before the regular season starts.
The following are five things we learned from the Packers win against the Bengals:
Cedric Benson is a breath of fresh air
Cedric Benson showed everyone why the Packers signed him recently as he ran with confidence and punished defenders who stood in his way. Benson carried the ball six times for 38 yards (6.3 yard average) with his longest carry of the night going for 11. Not to mention, his first two rushes accumulated 17 yards, which is nice to see. It is clear the veteran can run, but now we must find out if the offensive line is going to be able to open holes for him to get through. His biggest attribute was clearly in play action where he moved the entire defensive line and gave Rodgers plenty of time to find an open receiver.
Aaron Rodgers is a little off
It is no secret Rodgers has been a little off this preseason as his accuracy has not exactly been pinpoint. He completed 50% of his passes for 154 yards and one interception for a passer rating of 57.8. It is certainly not the quarterback play fans are used to seeing but the fact that it is only preseason is a good reason not to worry. Rodgers and his receivers do not have their timing down quite yet but there is still plenty of time to get that worked out before their Week 1 match up with the San Francisco 49ers. One thing is for certain, Rodgers can definitely be effective rushing the ball as he garnered 52 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Graham Harrell is not who the Packers think he is
Graham Harrell played terrible in the first two preseason games, which sent waves all over the state with fans calling into their local radio stations and pleading on blogs for the Packers to trade for a proven backup quarterback such as Colt McCoy. I, for one, wrote plenty of articles about how Green Bay needs to accept that Harrell is not who they keep telling us he is and just make the trade already. The Packers remain confident and have publicly supported Harrell in the media but last night’s performance proves he simply is incapable of being the No. 2. Do not get me wrong, there were definitely some possessions where the players around him failed to do their jobs properly but the majority of the blame still falls on him.
Pass Rush is almost there
It was great to see Green Bay’s pass rush alive once again as they made life miserable for Andy Dalton in the first half. The Packers may have only recorded two sacks but there is no question Dalton spent most of the time running from defenders, as he never appeared comfortable in the pocket. Nick Perry is beginning to look like the pass rusher we all hope he is going to be, but now he must find a way to finish plays and sack the quarterback. Clay Matthews is still a beast and seems determined to make up for last year’s down season. B.J. Raji was also getting plenty of push into the backfield, which is exactly what Green Bay needs.
Defense getting back to old self
The defense still has plenty of work to do before the regular season but it is refreshing to watch the unit get back to their old self. I already talked about the pass rush, but it should also be noted the pass and run defense was a big part of the success. Dalton completed only five passes for 43 yards for a passer rating of 48.3. Even when he had time to throw, the Packers defensive backs swarmed the receivers and broke up plays. Green Bay’s run defense held Cincinnati’s top running back to 19 yards on four carries, as the Bengals found it difficult to move the chains on the ground.
It should also be noted the Packers biggest success of the night on defense was the goal line stop in the second quarter. The Bengals had first and goal on Green Bay’s one yard line but could never get in for the touchdown after a failed pass, rush, and nine-yard sack courtesy of Erik Walden.