While Marvin Lewis understandably handed the gameball to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, we want to address the players that helped the Bengals beat the Patriots on Sunday. Our nominations (you vote and we announce the winner on Tuesday).
Chris Crocker: Who would have thought that two weeks ago Chris Crocker would make such an impact after being signed off the street two weeks ago. Considering he intercepted a pass three days prior to be signed as a free agent off the street last year, the answer is all of us. Crocker's presence just adds a significant influence in the secondary. He finished the game with seven tackles (second on the team), two tackles for loss (led the team), and two passes defensed (tied for most on the team).
With 1:50 remaining in the first half, Crocker dropped Aaron Dobson for a four-yard loss that would eventually force New England to punt with over a minute remaining in the second quarter. Crocker also stopped Danny Amendola from rolling into the endzone with 7:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, allowing Cincinnati's defense to stone New England's offense with three plays from the one-yard line.
Wallace Gilberry: Michael Johnson is concussed and was forced to sit out against the Patriots. Backup defensive end Wallace Gilberry ensured that his absence was negligible. Gilberry led a defensive front that made Tom Brady increasingly uncomfortable in the pocket, generating two quarterback sacks, two hits on the quarterback and a hurry.
Adam Jones: In some ways, Jones is still developing. In the first four weeks of the season, Jones allowed a completion rate of 73.9 percent against receivers he was covering for an opposing quarterback rating of 128.5. Against the Patriots, Jones allowed three of five passes for 76 yards (53 on one play) and an opposing quarterback rating of 64.6. But it was the fourth quarter where Jones really stepped up. He yanked out the football on a Julian Edelman catch in the endzone, forcing the incomplete and holding New England to a field goal. Later in the fourth quarter, Jones intercepted Tom Brady's final pass to seal Cincinnati's 13-6 win.
Geno Atkins: Set the tone early with a quarterback sack on New England's second play from scrimmage. Atkins came into the game with four combined tackles in the first four games of the season. He doubled that production with five stops (though only one solo tackle).
Carlos Dunlap: When he's on his game, there are few players on this team better than him. Dunlap is playing exceptionally well against the run and his 3.0 quarterback sacks is second to Geno Atkins (3.5). Dunlap forced a fumble, added a quarterback hit, two hurries and five tackles.
Kevin Huber: Finally, the man with the biggest boom heard around Cincinnati. His 57-yard punt through a rainstorm with decent winds put New England on their own 35-yard line with 1:48 remaining. It could have been worse, considering that the Bengals were snapping from their own 17. Huber also added two punts inside New England's 20-yard line in the first quarter.
Week 4 (Browns): S George Iloka
Week 3 (Packers): DE Michael Johnson
Week 2 (Steelers): RB Giovani Bernard
Week 1 (Bears): LB Vontaze Burfict