CINCINNATI — Aaron Rodgers ran everywhere, including the end zone. Twice.
The MVP quarterback led Green Bay to a big first half Thursday night, running for 52 yards and two touchdowns during a 27-13 preseason victory that got the Packers’ offense moving at full speed.
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 with an interception while leading the Packers to 245 yards and a 17-6 halftime lead. He also scrambled six times, scoring on runs of 12 and 5 yards.
"Obviously, you can’t let the quarterback run like we did," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "When that happens, it nullifies good coverage or a good initial rush, and it wipes out the other good plays you make."
Running back Cedric Benson made his Packers debut against his former team and ran six times for 38 yards. 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 has been learning the play book. He got into a preseason game for the first time and gained 8 yards on a carry up the middle, receiving a mixed reaction from the crowd of 52,584.
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-yard line. 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 36 yards.
Cincinnati settled for field goals of 42 and 30 yards by Mike Nugent, the second coming after the Bengals had a first-and-goal from the 1. Dalton had to throw away a pass under pressure, a run went nowhere, and Dalton was sacked by Erik Walden, forcing the Bengals to settle for the field goal.
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: Rodgers and Dalton led their teams in rushing. ... 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.
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