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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Plays that shaped the season: No. 8

By Rob Demovsky

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers were on the field for 2,216 plays combined on offense and defense this season and several hundred more on special teams.

As we look back on the season, we will examine 10 plays, subjectively chosen, as the ones that most shaped the Packers' season that ended with Sunday's 23-20 NFC wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.

The list, so far, in reverse order:

No. 10: Micah Hyde's near interception.

No. 9: Enter quarterback Matt Flynn.

Here's No. 8:

Date: Sept. 22, 2013.

Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati.

Game: Packers vs. Bengals.

The play: Running back Johnathan Franklin's fumble that Bengals cornerback Terence Newman returned 58 yards for a touchdown with 3:47 remaining.

Why it mattered: The Packers were clinging to a 30-27 lead when they faced fourth-and-1 from the Bengals' 30-yard line. Coach Mike McCarthy decided to go for it figuring that if they converted it, they probably could run out the clock. But when Franklin tried to leap over the pile for the first down, he fumbled, setting off crazy play that ultimately decided the game. Defensive end Michael Johnson forced the fumble, which was recovered by safety Reggie Nelson. Packers receiver Randall Cobb then stripped the ball from Nelson, but Newman picked it up and went the distance. The loss dropped the Packers to 1-2 heading their bye week.

Quotable: “Probably over-thought it because my initial thought was to kick the field goal,” McCarthy said. “I'm paid to make those decisions. When they go wrong, I'm responsible.”