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Top 5 wins of Andy Dalton's first 5 years: No. 3 Beating the Packers in 2013

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We continue recapping the top five wins in the Dalton era, looking at the quarterback's first major victory against a top-flight quarterback.

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Heading into Week 3 of the 2013 NFL season, Andy Dalton had a 20-14 record. He'd only won four games against teams that ended the season with winning records; he defeated the 9-7 Titans in 2011, and he beat the 10-6 Redskins, 9-7 Giants and 10-6 Ravens in 2012. His 4-8 regular season record against winning teams was far from impressive, and the fact that Cincinnati wasn't even dominant against teams with a record of .500 or below wasn't any more assuring.

But in Week 3 of the 2013 season, the Cincinnati Bengals won a game that set the tone for the rest of the season. Beating the Green Bay Packers after a victory over Pittsburgh in Week 2 sparked a stretch where the Bengals went 6-1 in seven games, including a major victory over the Patriots that I don't believe would've happened without the confidence the team found after defeating Green Bay in a major upset. After all, while the Packers only finished 2013 with an 8-7-1 record, the team was still dominant.

In fact, Cincinnati's win over Green Bay prevented what would've been a six-game Packers winning streak and reduced that streak to four games. It's also important to point out that this was the year Aaron Rodgers got injured; Green Bay was 6-3 in games with him under center and 2-4-1 in games without him. The Bengals faced Rodgers when they matched up with the Packers.

The Bengals got off to a quick start, thanks to a huge drive to start off the game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained 16 yards on three carries; Andy Dalton went 3-for-3 with 54 passing yards and Giovani Bernard capped the drive with a beautiful diving touchdown that has made its way into almost every NFL highlight reel:

Following the touchdown, the Bengals gained even more momentum on a game-changing special teams play. Already up 7-0, the Bengals made the most of a muffed kickoff return, recovering the fumble and giving the offense a chance to go up 14-0 on the Packers.

The Bengals offense cashed in on its opportunity, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored a touchdown on the following play: a two-yard touchdown run.

Following the touchdown, Green Bay punted twice, with a Cincinnati punt sandwiched between the two stalled drives. On the ensuing Bengals drive, "Bad Andy" showed up.

Looking back at Dalton's 2013 film brings back dark memories of the quarterback's past struggles against the blitz. In 2015, he excelled when opposing teams sent pressure. However, before last season, the signal-caller was far from perfect with opponents in his face. On this particular play, Dalton made the wrong read and threw a pass straight to Sam Shields, who was in perfect position to make an interception before the quarterback even got rid of the football.

Fortunately for Cincinnati, Green Bay was only able to kick a field goal. The Bengals got the ball back, but they couldn't keep it for long. BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained a yard on a short rush, but on the following play, self-proclaimed "villain" Jermaine Gresham lost a crucial turnover.

Fortunately for Gresham and the rest of the Bengals offense, Green Bay's offense stalled on a third down sack split between Michael Johnson and Wallace Gilberry. Cincinnati got the ball back, but another poor fumble gave Green Bay an opportunity to get back into the game.

Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings made a savvy move, recovering Green-Ellis' fumble and returning it for a touchdown, bringing the Packers within four points of the Bengals.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis was known for going four seasons without a rushing fumble as a member of the New England Patriots. Zero fumbles in 510 carries is extremely impressive. Yet Green-Ellis fumbled five times in just two seasons with the Bengals, on only 498 carries. Sure, Cincinnati is a different team than New England, but it still doesn't explain how the running back was suddenly unable to hold onto the football. (Insert joke about how New England doesn't inflate their footballs here.)

Somehow, the Bengals managed to lose a fumble on three consecutive drives against Green Bay. Andy Dalton made a great play to evade a sack, but Clay Matthews clubbed the ball out of Dalton's hand when the quarterback was scrambling to give the Packers yet another offensive possession.

Losing three fumbles in a game is incredibly rare. Losing a fumble on three consecutive drives is almost unheard of, especially in a win and even moreso in a win over a quality opponent. Green Bay capitalized on the fumble, kicking a field goal to make it a 14-13 game, still in the Bengals' favor. After the Bengals stalled on another drive, the Packers kicked a field goal as time expired, taking a 16-14 halftime lead.

Backup Packers running back Jonathan Franklin had a great start to the second half, gaining 20 yards on four carries and scoring his first (and only) career touchdown to cap off the drive. A neck injury derailed Franklin's NFL career about a year after it began, which just makes you feel for the guy. At least the former fourth-round running back was able to score a touchdown, though it certainly won't ever measure to the frustration that must come with suffering such a serious injury.

Down 23-14, the Bengals looked like they were out of hope. They couldn't hold onto the football; Green Bay's offense finally seemed to be getting into a rhythm and Cincinnati's defense was on the field for far too long. A Brandon Tate fumble on the ensuing kickoff reassured that lack of momentum, but fortunately, Cedric Peerman was able to bail his teammate out and recover the fumble.

Cincinnati worked its way down to Green Bay's 38-yard-line, but it couldn't make the most of its drive, eventually punting the ball back to the Packers. Jonathan Franklin took over again, galloping his way down to the Bengals' 36-yard-line before Leon Hall made a touchdown-saving tackle.

However, the momentum sparked by Franklin's big run resulted in yet another Packers touchdown, coming in the form of a 7-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to James Jones. Green Bay took a commanding 30-14 lead, and the game was virtually over.

But when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals, anything is possible.

Benefitting from good field injury due to a Packers penalty on the extra point, Andy Dalton led his team down the field on two passes, and Giovani Bernard added a 17-yard run, putting Cincinnati on Green Bay's 20-yard-line. Capping off the drive, Dalton lobbed a touchdown pass to his favorite target, A.J. Green, who absolutely torched Sam Shields with ease for a quick score. The drive took less than two minutes, and the Bengals were all of a sudden back to being down just nine points.

And on the Packers' next drive, Cincinnati's defense came up big with a huge turnover.

On the third play of the drive, Aaron Rodgers threw a bad pick straight to Terence Newman, giving Cincinnati the chance to come back within a single possession.

However, the Bengals were not able to score off the turnover. Mike Nugent missed a 52-yard field goal, and Cincinnati's defense was forced to take the field once again, entering the fourth quarter down two possessions. But the Bengals defense continued to fight, forcing another turnover against Green Bay's high-powered offense.

Leon Hall put himself in perfect position and came up with the crucial interception, giving his team another chance to score some points. The offense faced bad field position, but at this point of the game, it needed to make some plays to win, regardless of where it started the drive.

And that's exactly what happened. Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green made a couple of huge plays, putting the Bengals into striking distance. Andy Dalton delivered another strike to a wide-open Marvin Jones, bringing his team within two points after the extra point.

Tramon Williams was left in the wake, jogging by the time Jones had hauled in the touchdown pass. It was up to Cincinnati's defense to come up with another stop if the Bengals wanted a shot at beating the Packers.

Green Bay moved the ball down the field fairly easily, thanks to a couple of nice runs by Johnathan Franklin, who finished the game with 103 yards on 13 carries. But Franklin was his team's goat, despite putting his team on his back.

The Packers' fall started with a brutal fumble by Randall Cobb. Initially, the receiver's progress was ruled as a first down. But Marvin Lewis challenged the ruling on the field, claiming that the runner should've been down by contact, and the play was reversed.

As a result of the challenge, the Packers faced a fourth-and-short. The play that followed was what makes this game great, turning the tides for the Cincinnati Bengals.

What a beautiful thing. Michael Johnson forced the fumble, Reggie Nelson recovered and fumbled and Terrance Newman recovered the loose ball, returning it for a touchdown.

The Packers were never able to capitalize on the following drive. Taylor Mays successfully defended Randall Cobb as the slot corner, Carlos Dunlap batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage and Michael Johnson sealed the deal with a third batted pass.

Game over. It's harder to see a more exciting game than this one.

What made this game special was Cincinnati's defense locking down on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' passing game, Andy Dalton overcoming several brutal turnovers to lead his team down the field on two clutch drives, a couple of huge forced turnovers by the Bengals' defense and some great coaching from Cincinnati's sideline. The Bengals didn't fold under pressure; they played to win until the final whistle blew. Despite losing a fumble on three consecutive drives, they came out with the victory. If not for this win, it would be hard to see the Bengals beating the Patriots the following week or winning the AFC North crown at the end of the 2013 season.

In my opinion, this was a franchise-altering win for the Bengals. It was the win that sparked what could've been the best Bengals team in the entire Dalton era, if not for a Geno Atkins injury late in the 2013 season.