Top Plays of 2012: Michael Johnson gets into the act

Andy Lyons

The Bengals defense set the tone early with a Geno Atkins sack. Michael Johnson joined the act two plays later.

You had a feeling that following Geno Atkins' first quarter sack against the Oakland Raiders, that the tone was being set. The Bengals were geared up, not just for a memorable win, but punishing Carson Palmer and, by association, the Oakland Raiders.

Atkins' sack with over 13 minutes remaining in the first quarter pushed the Raiders back to their own 28-yard line. Needing 17 yards for first. Palmer checks down to running back Jeremy Stewart on second down, limited to three yards thanks to an Adam Jones stick. That leaves third and 14 from the Raiders 31-yard line with 12:18 remaining in the first quarter.

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Johnson held the edge momentarily while Geno Atkins went all-out to force Palmer up into the pocket.

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Vontaze Burfict, blitzing on the play, holds at the line of scrimmage and forces Palmer to redirect. Palmer, with the grace of Chris Farley's insurance salesman act on Saturday Night live, drunkenly stumbles for a lane.

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Michael Johnson tracks Palmer down from behind to record the second sack on Oakland's opening possession.

As aggressive as the defensive line was, the secondary added the greatest contribution. Oakland used a trips formation. Cincinnati countered with a traditional nickel.

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By the time Palmer is forced to scramble, the secondary has a firm handle on the routes; none appearing to have reached the first down marker anyway.

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Nothing.

After Johnson drops Palmer, the Raiders are forced to punt. Cincinnati answers with a five-play, 58-yard drive, capped by a BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdown, taking a 7-0 lead.

It was a good day.

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