When you think about the injuries that had the greatest impact on their respective teams, you think Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, or New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. However, when the Cincinnati Bengals lost Geno Atkins to an ACL tear, it was the costliest injury in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Can you ever hope to replace a player who was our Defensive Player of the Year runner-up the prior season? Atkins’ absurd +80.0 grade in 2012 was more than double that of any other defensive tackle. After a slow start this season, he was reaching his old dominant ways before his injury. Brandon Thompson mustered just two sacks and no QB hits in reserve while Domata Peko struggled mightily alongside him. The Cincinnati defensive line couldn’t stop the run and pressure Philip Rivers in its Wild Card loss to San Diego and there’s no doubt that having Atkins in the middle would have made a difference.
Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, who suffered an Achilles, was mentioned.
Our fifth-highest graded cornerback at the time of his injury, Hall’s loss was dulled by the effective play of Adam Jones, Terence Newman, and Chris Crocker.