While many of his teammates were eager to get dressed and get out of the locker room to meet friends and family members following their wild 34-30 win against Green Bay on Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko was anxious to see the final stat sheet.
“Did I get it? Did they give it to me?” Peko asked while peeking at the gamebook over teammate Carlos Dunlap’s shoulder.
The play Peko was talking about was a sack of Aaron Rodgers where the defensive line pushed the offensive players back into the quarterback, knocking him down for one of the team’s four sacks on the day.
And yes, on that play, the credit went to Peko.
“They don’t come too often for the big nose guard,” Peko said. “That’s two in a row, baby. I got one on Big Ben last week and one on (Rodgers).”
Michael Johnson was credited with 1.5 sacks — his first of the year — while Wallace Gilberry got a half and Carlos Dunlap got the other one as the Bengals repeatedly pressured Rodgers and held him to 244 yards and a 64.5 passer rating.
The pressure played a big role in keeping Green Bay from blowing the game open after the Bengals offense committed four turnovers on four consecutive possessions. Other than a fumble return for a touchdown, the other three turnovers led to just a pair of field goals.
“We were able to go out there and get some stops,” Johnson said. “Continue to play physical and just take it to them. They’ve got a good team. It could have went either way. Thankfully we were on the good end of it.”
But it still came down to the final possession as Rodgers drove the Packers to a first down at the Cincinnati 25-yard line with 1:40 to go. But Dunlap batted down a pass on third down and Johnson got his hands on the fourth-down throw to clinch the win.
“It’s just one of those wins that we’ve needed for a long while,” Dunlap said. “We fought our ass off and finished the game. That’s going to pay off dividends in the long haul when we get in another situation similar to that.”
Four on the floor
The Cincinnati Bengals squandered an early 14-0 lead against the Packers due in large part to committing four turnovers on four consecutive possessions.
Andy Dalton threw an interception and then Jermaine Gresham, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Dalton each lost fumbles in a span of six minutes.
But while that careless stretch was an anomaly, it was not a franchise first.
The 1994 Bengals also committed four turnovers on successive possessions on Oct. 2, 1994, in a Sunday Night Football game against Miami that was dubbed the Shula Bowl as Cincinnati head coach Dave Shula squared off against his Hall of Fame father Don Shula.
With the Bengals trailing 17-7 in third quarter, running back Steve Broussard lost a fumble — ironically forced by current Cincinnati player Geno Atkins’ father Gene — and then quarterback David Klingler threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble.
The Dolphins went on to win 23-7.
Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said earlier in the week he could see the team eventually moving to a 50/50 split on carries by running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard.
Sunday against Green Bay, it happened.
Green-Ellis carried 10 times for just 29 yards, while Bernard continued his emergence as the team’s top offensive weapon behind A.J. Green with 10 carries for 50 yards. Both backs scored touchdowns in the first quarter, but Green-Ellis only had two carries in the second half.
Bernard also caught four passes for 49 yards.
“He had some big plays,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said of Bernard. “He keeps doing what we expected him to do.”