- Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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In one of the more remarkable defensive stretches by the Packers, they forced turnovers on four straight first-half possessions with an interception and three fumbles.
“It’s a shame that we couldn’t make a few more plays in the second half,” Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji said.
Or it’s a shame that the Packers couldn’t convert the takeaways into more points (other than the one safety M.D. Jennings returned for a touchdown, the Packers got only two field goals off the other three takeaways). Or that the Packers were in a 14-0 hole, thanks in part to a giveaway of their own when Jeremy Ross fumbled a kickoff that the Bengals recovered at the Packers’ 2-yard line.
Cornerback Sam Shields got the Packers’ defense started late in the first quarter when he picked off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who was trying to hit A.J. Green. The Packers then forced fumbles on Cincinnati’s next three possessions. Linebacker Brad Jones ripped the ball away from away from tight end Jermaine Gresham, and A.J. Hawk recovered it. Then Clay Matthews forced a BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumble that Jennings returned 24 yards for a touchdown. Then Matthews got another one with a strip-sack of Dalton that Jones recovered.
Of the Bengals’ 34 points, a case could be made that the Packers’ defense wasn’t responsible for 14 of them – the touchdown after Ross’ fumble and the game-winning 58-yard fumble recovery return by cornerback Terence Newman.
“We’re doing some great things out there, even today, but ultimately, it’s about sustaining that success,” Matthews said. “We can’t just show flashes and then take the foot off the gas. We’ve got to keep it going. It is encouraging. We’re moving in the right direction, but our record doesn’t indicate that. We’ve just got to keep progressing.”