How Geno Atkins (And Michael Johnson) Stalled Green Bay's Opening Drive

In hindsight the Green Bay Packers first-team offense pretty much had their way against the first-team Bengals defense Thursday night, scoring on three of their first five possessions to start the game. It may have been a fourth with an opening Green Bay drive drove the football fairly confidently, if not for Geno Atkins (with a little help from Michael Johnson) stalling the drive at midfield.

Green Bay is setting up on Cincinnati' 45-yard line with 13:09 remaining in the first quarter. It's second down on a drive that's already accumulated two first downs and appeared destined for an easy Packers score. Geno Atkins, who forced quarterback Aaron Rodgers into a 14-yard scramble earlier in the drive, lined up in his usual three-point stance on over the left guard T.J. Lang. Green Bay had a single-back formation with the tight end on the left.

Rodgers takes the snap and hands the football to running back Alex Green, targeting the left edge. Atkins applied his strength over Lang, easily taking control and observing Green's path. Once the running back tried turning upfield after Lang's block on Atkins, Cincinnati's defensive tackle shed from the block and dropped the running back at the line of scrimmage.

No gain.

After a false start pushes Green Bay back to midfield, Aaron Rodgers takes the shotgun snap with Cincinnati playing nickel. Michael Johnson fakes up-field, gives a quick punch to running back John Kuhn, finding a spot in the zone as an outlet receiver, before delaying a rush. Atkins impressively took a sprinter's step to his right, quickly beating Lang with a futile effort by left tackle Marshall Newhouse to slow Atkins' acceleration. He was absolutely no help.

Eventually both Lang and Newhouse neutralized Atkins (with a Newhouse hold) because the quarterback rolled left behind his blockers, naturally picking Cincinnati's defensive tackle. However with so much attention on Atkins, no one realized that Michael Johnson was unblocked. Well Aaron Rodgers did.

Johnson deflected the pass to outlet receiver John Kuhn, forcing the Packers to punt on their opening possession.

Atkins and Johnson finished the game with three and four tackles respectively.

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