Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed the worst-case scenario Friday afternoon, saying the MRI on defensive tackle Geno Atkins’ right knee showed a torn ACL, which means the two-time Pro Bowler will miss the rest of the season.
It’s another devastating blow for a Cincinnati defense that in the last two weeks lost cornerback Leon Hall (Achilles) and safety Taylor Mays (shoulder) to season-ending injuries and was without starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (concussion/knee) in Thursday night’s 22-20 overtime loss at Miami.
Atkins’ injury occurred with 4:45 left in the second quarter on a 3-yard run by Dolphins running back Lamar Miller. While engaged with Miami guard John Jerry, Atkins planted his right leg and got twisted. He had to be helped off the field by teammates Alex Smith and Jermaine Gresham.
The team leader in sacks with six, Atkins will become the eighth Bengals player to go on injured reserve this season. And all eight play defense. Add in Maualuga, who is expected to be out for a month, and defensive tackle Devon Still, who missed the last two games with an elbow injury, and it’s been a brutal run of bad luck for the Bengals.
“Devon is well on his way to progressing back, so hopefully he comes back sooner than later,” Lewis said. “And (Domata) Peko continues to do good things and is a great leader for those guys up front. But between Robert (Geathers) and Geno we’ve lost two of the guys up front we count on for a lot.”
Brandon Thompson, a third-round pick in 2012, received the bulk of the playing time after Atkins left, playing a career-high 36 snaps and finishing with two tackles.
“He did OK,” Lewis said of Thompson, who entered the game with 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks in limited action this season. “He did some things that are good and did some things that we need to improve on. Everybody does. We didn’t play very good upfront on the defensive line yesterday. We need to play better. We didn’t get off to a good start when Geno was in there, and we didn’t play very good until the second half.”
Rookie defensive end Margus Hunt also played some of his 19 snaps on the interior of the line after Atkins went down.
Running back Giovani Bernard left the game with a rib injury after scoring the team’s only two touchdowns, but Lewis said he expects the rookie to be ready for Baltimore on Nov. 10.
Questionable calls: At his Friday afternoon press conference, Lewis continued to take exception with two of the three questionable calls during the Miami loss.
Lewis said he still disagrees with the safety call that ended the game when Cameron Wake sacked Andy Dalton at the goal line.
“In my opinion, it isn’t (a safety),” Lewis said. “Andy’s feet aren’t in the end zone, so for the ball to be behind his feet, it would be kind of an awkward position. So that’s the only thing I can see because his feet aren’t in the end zone when he’s contacted, nor are they on the white line.”
Lewis also disagreed with the holding call on Jermaine Gresham that wiped out a 50-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones and led to Brent Grimes’ 92-yard interception return for a touchdown a few plays later.
“By definition of the rule, there’s no restriction,” he said. “The guy spins out of the block and Jermaine lets him go. I can’t fault Jermaine for that. He’s got his hands on the guy. He’s shoving the guy. The guy spins. He lets him go. And Marvin runs around it.”
Lewis did say he thought Miami receiver Brian Hartline’s catch on the sideline that led to the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation was the correct call. While it appeared to be close whether Hartline got his second foot down, the play was not reviewed by the replay booth.
Rare ending: Thursday’s game marked just the third time an NFL game has ended with a safety in overtime. Chicago beat Tennessee 19-17 on Nov. 14, 2004. And Minnesota beat the Los Angeles Rams 23-21 on Nov. 5, 1989.
Cincinnati (6-3) at Baltimore (3-4), 1 p.m. Nov. 10, Ch. 7, 12, 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7 FM