CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers sure do love drama. The teams don't play often because of being in different conferences but when they do, they get their money's worth.
Cornerback Terence Newman returned a fumble 58 yards with 3:47 remaining and Cincinnati's defense held Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers on downs 20 yards from a go-ahead touchdown as the Bengals knocked off the Packers 34-30 Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals (2-1) overcame four turnovers in nine plays in the first half and rallied from a 30-14 deficit in the third quarter. Green Bay (1-2) drove to the Cincinnati 20 in 12 plays but on fourth-and-5, defensive end Michael Johnson knocked down Rodgers' pass to end the comeback.
The Packers scored 30 straight points at one juncture in the game but also turned the ball over four times. Cincinnati is the first team to win a game after surrendering 30 consecutive points since Dallas beat Washington 41-35 in overtime on Sept. 12, 1999. The Cowboys had given up 32 straight points to Washington in that game before rallying.
"(We persevered) through as many negative plays I've seen in my life," said Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. "We have to keep after it and be diligent with the football. The defensive effort was outstanding."
This is the third consecutive game between the teams in which the Bengals held off the Packers deep in scoring territory to determine the outcome.
The Bengals won 21-14 in 2005 at Paul Brown Stadium when time ran out on Brett Favre and Packers at the Cincinnati 30. In 2009 at Lambeau Field, the Packers got a field goal with 49 seconds left, recovered an onside kick and reached the Cincinnati 10 behind Rodgers before running out of time.
Six of the past seven games between the teams since 1986 have been decided by seven points or fewer, including a 24-23 Green Bay win in 1992 that featured Favre coming off the bench to replace an injured Don Majkowski. The following week, Favre began his NFL-record streak of 297 consecutive starts.
Newman's touchdown came after the Bengals had stopped rookie running back Johnathan Franklin on a fourth-and-1 attempt that was necessary because a first down was overturned on the previous play after Randall Cobb's progress was challenged by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.
"With the challenge, you obviously had plenty of time to think about it," said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. "I probably overthought it, because my initial thought was to kick the field goal. I'm paid to make those decisions. When they go wrong, I'm responsible."
Johnson stripped the ball from Franklin on the play, safety Reggie Nelson picked it up but lost it after six yards. Newman, who also had an interception, scooped the ball up and took it the rest of the way for his fifth career touchdown return.
"I was thinking quarterback sneak, and the way our D-line was playing I knew it was going to be up to those guys to push the O-line back and stop Rodgers," said Newman. "The next thing I know, I saw somebody get hit, I saw the ball pop out and I saw Reggie pick it up. I was trying to get a block and someone was trying to tackle him so I was screaming 'pitch it, pitch it'. Nobody on defense ever yells that. I saw the ball pop loose and it took a nice little bounce where I could grab it on the run."
Cincinnati jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the game was six minutes old. Rookie running back Giovani Bernard scored on a 3-yard run, his third touchdown of the season, by getting around the right side and then beating tackle attempts by safety M.D. Jennings and cornerback Micah Hyde. Bernard leaped over Hyde at the goal line to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive that used up the first 5:40 of the game clock.
Green Bay kick returner Jeremy Ross muffed the ensuing kickoff and Cincinnati's Taylor Mays recovered at the Packers' 2-yard line. BenJarvus Green-Ellis took a handoff on first down and scored his second touchdown of the season with 9:08 left in the first quarter.
The Packers answered by scoring the next 30 points.
The Green Bay offense managed just 100 yards in the first half but Cincinnati committed four turnovers in stretch of nine plays to jump-start the Green Bay comeback. The Packers scored just 13 points off of those four turnovers, however, while taking a 16-14 lead at halftime. The only touchdown came when Jennings returned a Green-Ellis fumble 24 yards to make it a 14-10 game.
Rodgers was coming off the most-prolific passing day of his career having thrown for 480 yards against Washington last week, which equaled the franchise record. He was held to 244 yards on 26 of 43 passing against a Cincinnati defense that has not allowed a 300-yard passer in 17 straight games. Cincinnati sacked Rodgers four times and was credited with eight quarterback hits and eight pass breakups. Newman and cornerback Leon Hall had interceptions against Rodgers. It is the first time he's thrown two interceptions in 41 games, ending the longest streak since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
"It's disappointing; we feel like we gave the game away offensively," said Rodgers. "We had a lot of turnovers and I played poorly. Defense played well enough for us to win and we should have come out with a win."
Green Bay scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half to take a 16-point lead. Franklin scored on a 2-yard run with 11:40 left in the third quarter, while Rodgers completed a 7-yard pass to James Jones with 5:30 left in the quarter.
Cincinnati started its rally with a 20-yard pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green with 3:50 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 30-21.
Dalton threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones with 10:55 to play in regulation, but Mike Nugent's extra point was blocked, maintaining a 3-point lead for Green Bay. Dalton finished the game 20-of-28 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 105.5. He also committed one of the turnovers in the first half, losing a fumble while trying to escape the rush. The lost fumble led to a 19-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.
NOTES: Green Bay TE Jermichael Finley left the game with a concussion in the first quarter after taking a hit from Cincinnati S George Iloka. There was no flag thrown on the play. ... The Packers also lost LB Clay Matthews (hamstring) and RB James Starks (knee) to injuries. ... The last time an opponent returned a fumble for a touchdown against Cincinnati was Nov. 21, 2010 when Buffalo's Drayton Florence had a 27-yard return. ... Cincinnati has now committed seven turnovers this season. The Bengals had 26 turnovers last season... The last time Cincinnati committed four turnovers in one half was Oct. 14, 2012 at Cleveland. ... Green Bay has been outscored 39-7 in the fourth quarter this season.