CINCINNATI – The last time the Packers visited Cincinnati, the NFL got one of its most bizarre endings.
Brett Favre had Green Bay in range for a tying touchdown when he took the snap, retreated to pass and heard the play whistled dead. Just then, a 31-year-old fan in an orange shirt and black cap snatched the ball out of his right hand, raised his arms and ran the other way.
Security finally tackled him near the other end zone and led him away, but the five-minute delay allowed the Bengals defense to regroup and hold on for a 21-14 victory in 2005.
"Yeah, I vaguely remember that," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who was the 49ers' offensive coordinator that year. "I'm sure I've heard Brett tell it among his many stories."
The Packers (1-1) finally come back to town on Sunday with a different quarterback and an offense that's looking to have another big game against a defense that's a little beat up at a bad time.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 480 yards and four touchdowns during a 38-20 win over Washington at Lambeau Field last Sunday. He joined Y.A. Tittle as the only ones in NFL history to throw for 480 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
Rodgers completed 81 percent of his passes (34 of 42), a Packers record. Green Bay piled up 580 yards overall, second-most in team history.
So, how does Cincinnati's depleted secondary stop him?
"It's going to be tough," cornerback Leon Hall said. "He has a lot of talent around him. They've been together for a while. You try to keep him contained and have to play great as a team together. The defensive line is going to have a great game along with the linebackers and the secondary."
Five things to watch on Sunday as the Bengals try to pull it off:
WHO'S GUARDING THOSE GUYS?: Cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) and Adam "Pacman" Jones (abdomen) were hurt during a 20-10 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium, forcing Cincinnati to sign free agent Curtis Marsh on Wednesday. Marsh was waived by the Eagles before the start of the season. It's not a good time to be teaching a newcomer the playbook. "We'll be all right," defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said, hopefully.
CAN DALTON KEEP UP?: Andy Dalton completed a career-high 78.7 percent in an opening loss at Chicago, but had trouble keeping calm against Pittsburgh and repeatedly missed receivers at the outset. The Bengals need him to keep his cool and keep up with Green Bay's fast-paced offense. "Aaron is one of the best in the game," Dalton said. "They've done a really good job offensively there and they score a lot of points. The offense has to come to play this week. We've got to do whatever we can to keep scoring, keep drives going, get some long drive against them to keep their offense off the field."
THE FINISHING TOUCH: One of McCarthy's points of emphasis this week was to finish 'em off. The Packers wasted chances late during a 34-28 opening loss at San Francisco, and let Washington hang around last week. "We need to play better in the fourth quarter," he said. "When you have the lead, you have to finish the race. No different than when you're coming from behind. We had a chance to take the lead with eight minutes left in the 49er game and we didn't finish it. So that's something that we're focused on."
GENO NEEDS SOME SACKS: The Bengals got their first two sacks of the season on Monday, getting to Ben Roethlisberger. Tackle Geno Atkins got his first, and now has 13½ over the last two seasons. If the Bengals can get pressure with their line, it will make things a lot easier on the patched-up secondary. If not ...
MONDAY NIGHT HANGOVER: It will be interesting to see how the Bengals respond to a short week coming off an emotional win over an AFC North rival. "It was huge," Hall said. "It is a big deal." The Bengals will find out if they're good enough to move on from a big win and get another against a proven playoff team.
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