Updated: 2:45 p.m.
A day after being named to his second straight Pro Bowl, tackle Geno Atkins became the third lineman on the star-studded Bengals front to win AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Thursday.
In Sunday's 13-10 victory in Pittsburgh the Bengals needed to make the playoffs, Atkins was virtually unblockable working against the Steelers middle that included first-round pick David DeCastro at right guard and Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. Atkins had two sacks and led the defensive line with eight tackles and a forced fumble while taking 63 percent of the snaps. The defense not only forced Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into two interceptions, one for Cincinnati's only touchdown, but held the Steelers to 95 yards rushing on 31 carries.
"It's been a big week," Atkins admitted. "To get the AFC Player of the Week and get named to the Pro Bowl in the same week is big."
Right end Michael Johnson won the award for his Sept. 23 effort in Washington with a career-high three sacks to go with six solo tackles, and left end Carlos Dunlap won it for his Dec. 2 performance at San Diego. His two sacks forced two fumbles with the last sack-and-strip preserving a 20-13 victory on his way to five tackles and four additional quarterback pressures.
Atkins's award gave the Bengals six of the league's weekly or monthly AFC awards and ties for the most in franchise history in 1988 and 1989. Quarterback Andy Dalton was AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his career-high four touchdown passes in the Nov. 11 win over the Giants at Paul Brown Stadium and starting Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green was AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September with 27 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns. Cornerback Adam Jones earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his 81-yard punt return touchdown in the Sept. 16 win over Cleveland at PBS.
Atkins, who leads all NFL interior linemen in sacks by a margin of 4.5 with 12.5, set a Bengals record for sacks by an interior lineman earlier this season when he passed the eight of Dan Wilkinson in 1996. Atkins also leads the Bengals in quarterback pressures (35), tackles-for-loss (13), and ranks tied for first in forced fumbles (four). He also has two passes defensed, and he is third on the line in tackles for the season (64).
Last season, Atkins tied for the NFL sacks lead among interior linemen with 7.5, and he was the first Bengals defensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl since nose tackle Tim Krumrie in 1988. His 23 sacks in 47 career games trail Krumrie's 34.5 in 188 games, which stand fifth on the Bengals all-time sack list.
ATTENDANCE REPORT:All Bengals were on the field for Thursday morning's practice but kicker Mike Nugent and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis wasn't on Wednesday's report and was ill, but Nugent was and he was listed as full go for the first time since he injured his kicking calf Dec. 5. But he sat out Thursday.
Head coach Marvin Lewis has moved Thursday's practice to 11 a.m., the past two weeks, a late-season move designed to get the players out of the facility earlier.