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Dalton, Atkins among NFL’s best players of Week 13

Sunday was the bounceback game Andy Dalton needed to silence his critics.

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals got big performances from two of their best players in their 32-14 domination of the Eagles.

On offense, Andy Dalton put on a clinic as he picked apart Philadelphia and showed he can still play at an elite level. The Bengals’ offense has been a mess without A.J. Green, and Dalton has unfairly taken a lot of blame for it.

Sure, the veteran quarterback has struggled a lot lately, but he’s only been part of an offense that’s struggled across the board recently. That changed on Sunday as Dalton finished 23 of 31 passing for 332 yards and two touchdowns (no turnovers) and a 130.0 quarterback rating.

That was good enough for the Bengals quarterback to be named the top player of Week 13 by Pro Football Focus.

No A.J. Green? No problem. All you need is to face the Philadelphia secondary. Dalton was near flawless in the win over the Eagles, completing 74.2 percent of his passes for 332 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Eagles didn’t get much pressure, but on the eight snaps they did hurry Dalton, he completed six passes (75.0 percent) for 103 yards and had a passer rating of 116.7. Three of his eight incompletions on the day were thrown away, and one was batted at the line.

All of this came against an Eagles defense that ranked eighth in opponent passer rating and fourth in opponent completion percentage coming into Week 13.

But Dalton and the offense can’t take all of the credit. After all, the defense held Philadelphia without a point for the first 42:30 of this game and forced three turnovers while allowing just 5.0 yards per pass.

A big reason for that was Geno Atkins being his dominant self in the middle, wreaking havoc throughout and making life miserable for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Atkins finished the game with just one tackle and two QB hits, but he had several more pressures and helped blow up a lot of plays Sunday, which earned him the No. 7 spot in PFF’s ranking of the 10 best players of Week 13.

He may not have recorded a sack this week, but Geno Atkins was a formidable thorn in the Eagles’ side all game long. He got QB Carson Wentz to the ground twice and recorded another four hurries from 44 pass-rushing snaps, but also did well against the run, affecting the point of attack with his quickness, burst and acceleration. The Bengals defense this season has relied too much on Atkins and edge rusher Carlos Dunlap, but both players stood up in a big way against the Eagles.

Atkins hasn’t put up big numbers in the box score this year with just 4.5 sacks and 20 total tackles, but he’s still been a force in the middle, greatly affecting opposing offenses. He finished Week 13 tied for PFF’s No. 7 ranking among interior defenders this season.