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This week’s post is loaded with defense, including an undrafted rookie and a home-coming of sorts for a veteran just signed last week. Even though the offense scored 27-points, we’re getting used to the performances of the dynamic duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Besides, the defense needed a pick-me-up this week after the first two weeks of the season.
5) Chris Crocker - 1 tackle, 1 pass defended and 1 interception
Crocker's veteran presence had an instant impact on the entire secondary. I don't think it's a coincidence that everybody in the secondary had their best games of the season with Crocker in the lineup. He's a smart player that can help line everybody up and make the calls and adjustments.
4) Reggie Nelson - 5 tackles - 1 TFL
Nelson was extremely active against his former team. Nelson was fast, physical and looked like the most athletic player on the field. He's been in the top 10 in our weekly Bengals Players Power Rankings since the season started. This game justified that. Keep it up, Reggie. The secondary could really use a consistent player.
3) Pacman Jones & Terrance Newman - 5 tackles, 2 passes defended between them
Both players have been relegated to nickel duty until Leon Hall and Nate Clements suffered their respective injuries. Jones and Newman played almost perfect games while starting in Jacksonville. Sure, they didn't have the biggest challenge when facing the Jaguars wide receivers, but they showed improvement from early in the season.
2) Vontaze Burfict - 8 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QB hit and 1 pass defended
Is this not the feel-good story of the year? Playing only his third game at weak-side LB and playing almost every single snap, Burfict answered the call again and rewarded the Bengals with his best performance as a professional. At this rate, Burfict will be the best LB on the team by the end of the season.
1) Geno Atkins - 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit
I normally don't put established players in this type of post, but I wanted to express the gravity of Atkins' game in Jacksonville. He completely dominated and forced the Jaguars to switch left guards midway through the game. It didn't help; Atkins recorded two sacks in the 2nd half and established a new standard for even himself; an All-Pro candidate.