A quick re-check from Elias for the most sacks by an interior lineman in a season:
It looks like the record belongs to the Vikings’ Keith Millard when he had 18 during the 1989 season he started every game at defensive tackle and the Bengals’ Geno Atkins is on pace for 19 after his two on Sunday gave him six for the season.
That’s fitting. It’s the second time Monday Elias uncovered Millard. When Michael Johnson and Sam Hubbard scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter to propel the Bengals to Sunday’s 27-17 victory over Miami, Elias said it was the first time two different defensive linemen on the same team each scored a touchdown in the same quarter since Millard and Tim Newton did it during the third quarter of the Vikings’ 43-17 home victory over the Falcons on Dec. 10, 1989.
That was after Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin played safety for the Pitt Panthers and before he played for the Montreal Machine in the World League so, yes, that’s the first time he saw anything like that.
“I don’t remember seeing it anywhere. I don’t recall that ever happening,” Austin said Monday. “But I’m glad it happened for us.”
TURNING IT OVER: Remember when Austin arrived in January preaching the culture of turnovers? The Bengals were just coming off a season with their second fewest interceptions under head coach Marvin Lewis (11) and the second fewest turnovers in the NFL with 14. Now after five games the Bengals have five interceptions, two in centerfield from rookie safety Jessie Bates (exactly why they drafted him) to go with eight turnovers. That puts them on pace for 16 picks and 26 turnovers. They’ve already got as many fumble recoveries (three) as they had all last season.
“When you emphasize things, they happen. I don’t think, a lot of times the ball bouncing your way isn’t luck,” Austin said. “It’s guys being in the right position. So if the ball does bounce, you’re there to pick it up, you’re there to scoop it, and I think that’s really what it’s all about. I was asked that question before, 'Do you think it’s luck because you got turnovers?'
“No, its guys being in the right position and when the ball presents itself, they’re able to get it. I’m happy for our guys. They worked hard. They’ve been working hard. For two games we didn’t have any turnovers and we had some this game, and we see how they impact the game. That’s why it’s so important.”
RE-TEZZING IT: For his fourth straight season debut, WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict played virtually half the snaps despite having just one week of practice. And, yes, he was a factor with his seven tackles runner up to SAM linebacker Nick Vigil’s nine. The final tote was 34 snaps, good for 53 percent. Austin said Burfict didn’t talk himself into playing more.
“Our thing was we had an initial pitch count we thought. But it was all relative in terms of how does he feel. How he felt down there,” Austin said. “That was a good amount of work for him … We got a few more plays than we thought. You feel him in there in the game. He’s a big body, he’s stout, he’s got a real good feel for the game. It was good to have him back out there. Each week, the biggest thing, like anything, is trying to get him back into football shape. It’s different than offseason conditioning shape. That’s our next thing. We’ll continue to manage and keep him going until he’s ready for the full plate.”
THIRD DOWN UPDATE: The Bengals were decent enough on third down Sunday holding Miami to 31 percent (four of 13) to vacate the NFL cellar. They left that to the Falcons after the Steelers scalded them on nine of 12 in Pittsburgh’s 41-17 memo to Paul Brown Stadium.
But it wasn’t because of Burfict because Austin pretty much stuck with Vigil and middle linebacker Preston Brown on third down. And when Brown went down briefly in the second quarter it was Hardy Nickerson.
There were a few third-down snaps they missed him. Like that third-and-16 check-down pass Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake somehow converted with the help of Vigil’s missed tackle. Or a third-and-four on Miami’s lone TD drive when Nickerson didn’t get there on a Double A Gap blitz (where Brown backed out into coverage at the last instant) and Danny Amendola caught a 16-yarder.
“What you start doing is you start doing that and you lose him – in terms of the pitch count we were trying to keep him on, all of a sudden you start putting him out there on third downs and if they convert he’s continuing to be out there,” Austin said. “You get off that pitch count really fast. I felt, I thought our guys were working at the third downs, I thought we would be better at them and we were. We’re going to continue to get better at them.”
They went with three backers on what turned out to be the biggest third down of the game. They were out there because it was a run down, third-and-one with 3:43 left in the third quarter and the Bengals had just cut the lead to 17-3. A run down for everybody but Miami head coach Adam Gase.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went play-action bootleg, but Vigil was draped all over quicksilver wide receiver Albert Wilson trying to run one of those bothersome underneath routes at the line of scrimmage and it forced Tannehill to throw an incompletion deep. The punt led to a Bengals’ touchdown and the comeback was on.