With an early bye week on tap for next weekend, the Green Bay Packers know they can spend a little extra energy as they try to break through a tough opening stretch on the positive side of .500.
The Packers try to secure their second victory in a row this Sunday when they visit another 1-1 club in the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
Green Bay is one of only two clubs to open this season against three 2012 playoff teams. The other is the San Francisco 49ers, who handed the Packers a Week 1 road loss.
Looking to avoid an 0-2 hole, Green Bay hosted the Washington Redskins this past weekend and put on an offensive show in a 38-20 victory.
Aaron Rodgers tied a club record with a personal-best 480 passing yards and hooked up with his receivers for four touchdowns, two to wide receiver Jordy Nelson. James Starks, in an increased role because of a concussion that Eddie Lacy suffered early in the game, added 132 yards rushing as the Packers totaled 580 yards of offense. That was the second-highest total in franchise history behind only a 628-yard effort on Nov. 11, 1962.
"I think that was the tip of the iceberg today," said tight end Jermichael Finley, who also came down with a touchdown catch. "It was awesome to see it."
Rodgers had 335 yards in the first half to help Green Bay build a 24-0 lead and under his direction the Packers are averaging 38.8 points per game over their last four regular-season contests.
The Packers also had a 400-yard passer and 100-yard rusher in the same game for the first time in club history and became the first team in league annuals to have a 450-yard passer and 125-yard rusher in the same contest.
Green Bay won't need to reserve any energy with a Week 4 bye on tap. That is the earliest the club will enjoy the week off under head coach Mike McCarthy and the earliest since also being off on Week 4 in 1999.
But the Packers can't look past the Bengals, who rebounded from a three-point loss at the Chicago Bears in Week 1 to top the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-10 this past Monday night.
Cincinnati held struggling Pittsburgh to 278 yards, while rookie running back Giovani Bernard scored the first two touchdowns of his career. He ran for an early score and also caught a 27-yard scoring pass from Andy Dalton.
Bernard had 38 of Cincinnati's 127 rushing yards, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis leading the way with 75 yards on 22 carries.
"He did the things that we expect him to continue to do. He had the great catch-and-run. He had a big run earlier. And then (Green-Ellis) comes back and finishes it off. So it was a good job today by the two of them," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
Dalton threw for 280 yards as the Bengals totaled 407 yards of offense and held the ball for 35 minutes and 34 seconds.
"One of the humps for us was supposed to be playing better in prime-time games," noted offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. "So check one game off that list. Now we get another huge hump: Green Bay."
The Bengals will host the Packers for the first time since 2005 and have won the past two encounters to take a 6-5 edge in the all-time series. Cincinnati secured a 31-24 road win in the last encounter on Sept. 20, 2009.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Green Bay's offense certainly is entertaining to watch, isn't it?
Rodgers has once again looked superhuman under center. He has thrown for 1,811 yards with 17 touchdowns and one interception over his last five regular- season games and has not posted a two-interception game in 41 straight starts in the regular season, the longest streak in league history since the 1970 merger.