HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after he sacked T.J. Yates #13 of the Houston Texans in the first half during their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Though a first alternate for the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl -- likely named to the roster because either Vince Wilfork or Haloti Ngata will go to the Super Bowl (and thus not likely to play in the Pro Bowl one week prior to the big game) -- Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins finished the season with 7.5 quarterback sacks, tied for most amongst defensive tackles in the NFL. Additionally Atkins led all defensive tackles with 15 hits on the quarterback while falling one short of Ndamukong Suh's 27 quarterback pressures.
So it's rather confusing why the PFW/PFWA 2011 All-NFL team omitted one of the NFL's most productive and best defensive tackles.
One can't fault the argument for Justin Smith -- though is Smith really a defensive tackle? -- but their second selection is Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
A force to be reckoned with every week, Ngata played his best in big games. Against the Steelers in Week One, he had four tackles, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. Against the Texans in Week Six, he had eight tackles and a sack. And in the Harbaugh Bowl vs. the 49ers in Week 12, Ngata finished with four tackles and two sacks. Not surprisingly, the Ravens won all three games.
During the team's first meeting against the Houston Texans, not only did Atkins register a shared sack, he generated four tackles for loss -- a team high for the season -- a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atkins recovered another fumble and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown. During a big game against the Baltimore Ravens on November 20, Atkins generated five tackles and a quarterback sack. During Cincinnati's wild card loss to the Texans, Atkins generated a quarterback sack, hit and two pressures while also making three stops (that constitute an offensive failure).
If the general argument were against the run, maybe one could buy that considering the limited methods used in determining a truly great defensive tackle -- save for the seeing-eye test. However according to Pro Football Focus, Atkins scored a higher grade (6.6) against the run than Ngata (4.6). In fact 25 defensive tackles scored a higher rating against the run than Ngata.
Perhaps a recount is warranted?