Published August 24, 2012
CINCINNATI – Cedric Benson didn't want to leave.
The former Cincinnati Bengals running back was the last player off the field Thursday night, savoring his homecoming. He made his debut with the Green Bay Packers and had a few nice runs during a 27-13 preseason victory.
Afterward, he hugged former teammates and coaches at midfield before finally calling it a day — and a very good one at that.
"It felt good," said Benson, who carried six times for 38 yards. "I was joking around earlier that I've only been here a week and a half and I'm playing the first half of the game. Truly, honestly, it felt like I haven't had a lot of time off."
Although Benson was the most familiar running back at Paul Brown Stadium, Aaron Rodgers was the best.
The MVP quarterback led the Packers to a big first half, running for 52 yards and two touchdowns. He repeatedly avoided the rush and took off, finishing as the game's top rusher.
"l always joke around with him about being a running back, showing his running back skills," Benson said. "He's got speed on those rollouts and that's very helpful."
No surprise to Rodgers, who ran for three touchdowns last season while setting a club record with 45 touchdown passes.
"I think I've showed it in the past," Rodgers said.
The Packers (No. 1 in the AP Pro32) wanted to look crisp coming off a drubbing by Cleveland. Rodgers led the way, going 12 of 22 for 154 yards while leading the Packers to 245 yards and a 17-6 halftime lead. He scrambled six times, scoring on runs of 12 and 5 yards.
"We couldn't keep the quarterback from extending drives and scoring," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We didn't do a good job of recognizing a mobile quarterback and getting him down and strapping him to the ground."
Rodgers made only one mistake, throwing an interception on a mix-up with a receiver.
"We were flat in the first half," said Bengals cornerback Terence Newman, who had the interception. "We didn't do anything."
Benson led the Bengals (No. 14) in rushing each of the last four years, but they decided to let him leave as a free agent and signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Benson signed with the Packers (1-2) on Aug. 14 and is learning the play book, spending extra study time with the quarterbacks.
He picked up 8 yards on his first carry, receiving a mix of boos and cheers from the crowd of 52,584.
"Ced was great," Rodgers said. "He's getting his feet wet. He made some runs out of nothing and did a nice job on some check-downs. It was a good start for him. We're excited to have him."
The Bengals (2-1) played their starters into the third quarter but they couldn't get a touchdown, failing even on a first-and-goal from the 1. Andy Dalton played the entire first half and the opening series of the third quarter, going 5 of 17 for 40 yards and two sacks. He scrambled three times for a team-high 36 yards.
Cincinnati settled for field goals of 42 and 30 yards by Mike Nugent, the second coming after the Bengals had the first-and-goal.
"We didn't play very well tonight," Dalton said. "We didn't get anything going."
One of the Packers' main concerns was how the offense did when Rodgers left the game. Backup Graham Harrell has struggled in the preseason, throwing two interceptions. He opened the second half and had a hand in another turnover.
The Packers fumbled at their 15-yard line when Harrell and John Kuhn failed to have a clean handoff. No. 2 quarterback Bruce Gradkowski threw for a touchdown on the next play.
Linebacker Jamari Lattimore returned an interception 27 yards for the Packers' final score.
Cincinnati sat five of its reserve cornerbacks because of injuries, including top draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick, who has missed all three preseason games while recovering from an injured left knee.
The Bengals rested Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott, their top two running backs. Brian Leonard started and carried four times for 19 yards.
NOTES: The replacement officials incorrectly spotted the ball 1 yard shy of the line of scrimmage for a play in the first quarter. ... Packers WR Tom Crabtree left with a shoulder injury after S Taylor Mays lowered his shoulder for a hit in the first quarter, drawing a personal foul penalty. ... Green Bay DT Ryan Pickett left with a calf injury. ... Bengals LB Manny Lawson injured his groin in the first quarter.