GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Take that, Tom Brady.
It’s what MVP quarterbacks do.
And Rodgers might have even one-upped Brady.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback engineered a game-tying drive and a game-winning one, and it was vintage free-play Rodgers.
First, he threaded the needle like only he seems to do on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson that barely skimmed by the fingers of Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with 17 seconds left in regulation.
Then, in overtime, when the Bengals jumped offside on third down, Rodgers made them pay with a 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison for a catch and run that set up Mason Crosby’s 27-yard game-winning field goal.
"You play this game long enough, some weird stuff happens sometimes on the field," said Rodgers, who threw for 313 yards with three touchdowns and an interception (more on that below). "About a split second before I threw that ball, I had an image of a pass I threw to James Jones against Detroit. It was actually an 80-yard touchdown at that point. So that kind of flashed right away about how hard to throw that one, and luckily, I put it in a good spot, and G-mo did the rest."
When Crosby’s kick went through the uprights in the south end zone to win it 27-24, it was the only time the Packers led all game.
"I think it’s fitting that he drew them offside," Crosby said. "That’s his bread and butter. Get them on a hard count and get a free play and make something happen."
Remarkably, it was Rodgers’ first overtime win. He came in 0-4 in regular-season overtime games and 0-7 overall, including the playoffs. Other than the 2009 wild-card playoff loss at Arizona, when Rodgers fumbled, most of those were hardly his fault. He had thrown only six passes in those seven overtime games.
"Obviously, in overtime over the years, haven’t had a lot of opportunities to throw the ball," Rodgers said.
It also was the first time Rodgers won a game in which he was sacked at least six times; he had been 0-6 in such games. And it was the first time he has beaten the Bengals, giving him at least one victory over all 31 other teams in the league.
A loss would have put the Packers at 1-2 for the fourth time in Rodgers’ career as a starter. That would’ve left a gloomy outlook considering how beat up the Packers are and their short week ahead -- their next game is Thursday night against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers’ heroics made his first pick-six in more than seven years a footnote to this game and not what defined it.
Now, perhaps defensive tackle Mike Daniels, outside linebacker Nick Perry, cornerback Davon House and inside linebacker Jake Ryan will be back on Thursday. And perhaps left tackle David Bakhtiari and receiver Randall Cobb will return.
Either way, the Packers avoided a potential early-season crisis thanks to Rodgers.
"I thought Aaron played one of his best games," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought he was tremendous today. He had a lot to deal with.
"It took us a while to get going and, but I thought he handled the adjustments very well. It was, had good changes and adjustments on the field. I thought he had a heck of a game."