An examination of four hot issues from the Bengals' 34-30 win over the Packers:
1. Lewis is ready for respect. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis made it clear after Sunday's win that he felt his team was slighted in the days leading up to the contest. Too much attention was paid to the Packers and their talent, and not the other way around, he said. "You guys ... we're a good football team," Lewis said to reporters during his postgame news conference. "You guys make too much of others. We've got good players here, too."
Perhaps it's been so hard for national media and NFL fans alike to accept that as fact because for the past two years in particular, the Bengals' talent hasn't equated to postseason success. Until they get past the first round of the playoffs, many still won't believe in this year's team. It's a shame, too, because it might be time for people to pay attention to Cincinnati. When a defense holds a passer as prolific as Aaron Rodgers to 244 yards and sacks him four times, it ought to turn heads.
2. All hands up. One of the biggest reasons Cincinnati's defense stymied Rodgers was its push at the line of scrimmage. Defensive ends Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry, and tackle Domata Peko each recorded sacks. When Johnson and Dunlap weren't getting to Rodgers, they batted away passes. They got their hands on three passes total, including Rodgers' desperate attempt on Green Bay's last offensive play of the game. On fourth-and-5, Johnson knocked down a pass that could have put the Packers in goal-line territory had it been converted. This was the first time in five years that Rodgers had at least three passes knocked down in a game.
3. Suffocating coverage. Cornerback Adam Jones was among those who used the words "team win" to describe how the Bengals pulled out the game. Just look at the overall defense to see why he felt they played that way. As a result of the intense pass rush by the Bengals' defensive line, the defensive backs were better able to stay with receivers. "If you get a good jam [on a receiver] and you get that good technique at the line, you don't have to cover for that long," Jones said. The combination of suffocating coverage and relentless pressure up front led to two interceptions.
4. Gio continues to go. Quarterback Andy Dalton may have struggled during the second and third quarters, but he knew whom to turn to with the game on the line. In need of getting out of his own end zone, Dalton began the Bengals' final offensive scoring drive by looking left and finding rookie rusher Giovani Bernard. Using his speed, Bernard sprinted up the sideline for 31 yards, kicking off a seven-play, 95-yard drive that resulted in a key late score. Bernard had 14 total touches, rushing 10 times for 50 yards and catching four passes for 49. He scored once and also had key gains of 17 and 31 yards.