CINCINNATI — Hijinks and surprises better suited for a three-ring circus certainly made things entertaining Sunday.
But it was the Cincinnati Bengals, taking advantage of the last of many wacky plays, who enjoyed the fruits of a 34-30 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The Bengals (2-1) won despite turning over the ball four times in a span of eight plays, and partly because Coach Marvin Lewis successfully challenged a fourth-quarter call.
Green Bay (1-2) heads into the bye week with a loss despite scoring 30 consecutive points, and because it matched Cincinnati's total of four turnovers.
Both teams returned fumbles for touchdowns, which is how Terence Newman scored the winning points.
"It was a great win and (we pushed) through as many negative plays as I've seen in my life," Lewis said. "At one point I told Coach Zimmer (Mike, the defensive coordinator) 'When it rains, it pours.' We have to learn to take care of the football."
The Bengals became the first team to surrender 30 consecutive points and still win since Dallas gave up 32 in a row but rallied for a 41-35 overtime victory over Washington on Sept. 12, 1999.
"It was a little tough because you never want to have turnovers like that," Bengals receiver Marvin Jones said. "But we came to the sideline and, after every turnover we said 'OK, let's get it back, let's get it back and when we get the ball let's do something with it.' ... We never leveled off. We always kept the train going straight, and that was great."
Cincinnati had scored 14 points before the Packers even ran a play, and in a span of 12 seconds.
Giovani Bernard tallied on a 3-yard run and, after the Packers fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored a 2-yarder.
Green Bay rallied to lead 16-14 at halftime, then scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half to take a 30-14 lead.
The first-half Packer points included Mason Crosby field goals after Sam Shields' interception and Brad Jones' fumble recovery, plus a 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown by M.D. Jennings. Crosby nailed a third field goal on the final play of the half.
In the third quarter, rookie Johnathan Franklin scored on a 2-yard run. That was part of a 103-yard effort on 13 runs, all in the second half while filling in for injured James Starks.
James Jones, on a 7-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers, scored what would be the Packers' final TD.
Cincinnati pulled to within 30-21 on Andy Dalton's 20-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
Then the Bengals picked off Rodgers' passes on the next two possessions. Rodgers finished with more interceptions than touchdown passes (one) for the first time in 36 games, dating to 2010.
The first pick, by Newman, netted nothing as Mike Nugent was wide on a 52-yard field-goal attempt.
The second, by Leon Hall, led to a Dalton TD pass of 11 yards to Jones with 10:55 left. A blocked PAT left Green Bay with a 30-27 lead.
With Green Bay driving towards a clinching score, Lewis made his challenge.
On third-and-12 from the Cincinnati 41, Rodgers hit former University of Kentucky standout Randall Cobb for 12 yards and a first down.
Lewis challenged the spot, and video confirmed that Cobb's knees hit as he was just shy of the first-down marker.
Going for it on fourth down, Franklin fumbled.
Cincinnati's Reggie Nelson recovered, only to be stripped by Cobb. Newman swooped in to snag the second fumble, returning it 58 yards for the winning score with 3:47 left.
Green Bay had a last chance to win, driving from its 20 to the Bengals' 20.
But Carlos Dunlap batted down a third-down pass by Rodgers, and Michael Johnson tipped a fourth-down pass with 1:21 left.
While Vontaze Burfict led the Bengals with 11 tackles, Johnson was all over the place with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, forcing a fumble, with four quarterback hurries.
"We just kept grinding. Coach Lewis, that's his motto: 'Just keep grinding. Keep your head down,'" Johnson said. "He came over and told us, 'Keep fighting.' That was the message for all of the guys on the sideline.
"The offense got some stuff going. They really picked us up, and we fed off of them to go out there and get some stops. We just needed to keep playing physical and try to keep taking it to them."
Bengals at Browns
When: 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229.Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com