Playing defense for the Cincinnati Bengals tends to be an unglamorous pursuit that doesn’t get you much in the way of kudos. Yet with another astonishing performance, this time in a pivotal game, Geno Atkins
) is making it really tough for people to ignore him as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. This has been a season of astonishing individual defensive performances, but as much as J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith are stealing the national spotlight, there should be a lot of column inches reserved for the play of Atkins. In the first encounter between these two teams Atkins was solid (+1.5
), if unspectacular by his own exceptional standards in 2012. This week he made amends for that by simply proving to be utterly unblockable for the Pittsburgh interior, no matter what combination of David DeCastro
, Maurkice Pouncey
or Ramon Foster
was trying to block him. In the pass game he was relentless in getting after Roethlisberger for four sacks, and he contributed a further three tackles in run defense as he shoved around linemen and redirected runs at will. Even when Steeler linemen seemingly had a good block on him he would work the block so hard the Steelers’ running back had to fight to get any of the yardage the block had initially given him. If a performance like this doesn’t get Atkins national attention then you start to wonder if he ever will. We can only hope he does, Atkins is one of a trio of players who are rewriting the PFF record books with a simply astonishing season of play.