Updated: 6:20 p.m.
Expect the Bengals to make some roster moves at some point with cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris slated to return off NFL suspension this week.
The Bengals were saving a spot for him and have a two-day roster exemption on him that started Monday. But they also have to sort through Sunday's spate of injuries. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said at his Monday news conference that wide receiver A.J. Green's right toe injury isn't "long term." The Bengals have a bye after this week's game.
Right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) have been two of the Bengals' best linemen in the early season and the good news it's believed they didn't suffer season-ending injuries but it's not clear when they'll return.
The news doesn't sound bright on tight end Alex Smith (biceps) as the Bengals begin to prepare for Sunday's 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium game against Tennessee.
DUNLAP DELIVERS: The Bengals needed a big game from end Carlos Dunlap against the Falcons' reduced tackles and he came up big with a sack of quarterback Matt Ryan and four other hits on him as well as knocking down a third-down pass when he dropped on a zone blitz while logging the most snaps on the defensive line with 56 out of a possible 66.
"He probably played one of his best games as a pro yesterday. He played really well," said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "He was coming off the edge. I challenged all the ends, we have to win right here because I wasn't sure going in if I was going to have to cover with seven all day. Whether it was going to be a four-man rush or whatever it is, but as the game kind of went on last week they had a bunch of four-receiver sets so I was trying to get the ball out of their hand a little bit faster because I knew they only protected with six guys and didn't have a tight end in the game. So, he did a really good job. "
After watching Ryan get pummeled for a half while throwing for 60 yards, the Falcons started to get away from the spread stuff.
As for the Falcons complaining about what they charged was Dunlap's low hit on Ryan late in the game, Lewis defended Dunlap with, "He was trying to tackle the quarterback," as Ryan moved out of the pocket.
"He dove out to tackle the quarterback. The quarterback is on the move, and he dove out to tackle the quarterback. I don't know what else you can do," said Lewis, who is a member of the NFL Competiton Committee. "There's only certain places, and the quarterback's running, as Matt Ryan did three times yesterday. Unfortunately, when a quarterback moves, we've got to tackle the quarterback. We can't grab him and throw him to the ground. He's got to nestle him down to the ground.
In this case he just leaps out to try to get him on the ground, and dives out. I didn't think there was really anything to it. I don't think any of their guys that went over there to push him afterwards even saw what happened. They just saw the quarterback get hit. They didn't know what happened. That shouldn't be the way the game finishes."
Guenther also defended Dunlap.
"(The) guy is running out of the pocket, you are not sure if he's getting ready to throw it. He's a runner, he's out of the pocket trying to go after the hit," Guenther said. "It just looked awful because he was turned to the side but he's had a number of those over the course of his career. None have been called because it's a bang-bang play."
But even though Falcons right tackle Lamar Holmes was called for a personal foul for taking a cheap shot at Dunlap after the play, Lewis isn't happy how his club responded to Atlanta's chippiness.
"We've got work to do. We have work to do. We had some guys do things that we don't want to have happen. This is the NFL, this is not WWF," Lewis said. "Let's get it right. Our guys, it was brought to their attention. We don't want to be that way and we wouldn't anybody to put us in that position so let's not get involved in it at all. It's not what we should be standing for in the NFL. This is a football and let's understand that. We have work to do in that area."
GENO GRINDS ON: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is still looking for some press-box stat love, but the Bengals like the way he is progressing. He was credited with just one assist and no QB hits, but he played 45 snaps after playing 49 the week before in the road back from ACL surgery.
"He looked a lot better yesterday than he did in Baltimore," Guenther said. "I just think he's getting his sea legs under him right now. It's really his second game. He didn't play much in preseason. I think he'll get better as we go and I think that's what you'll see."
With Thompson's status in doubt, he'll have to.
WHAT's IN A NAME: Sophomore Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hilll became the first set of Bengals running backs to have one with at least 20 carries and another with at least 15 since the 2009 AFC North title run. "Thunder and Lightning," won't do, so Hill via Twitter after the game opened the floor for nicknames and said he got about 200 responses but didn't see any he liked.
With Bernard carrying it a career-high 27 times (90 yards) and Hill 15 more (74), they did what hasn't been done in Bengaldom since Larry Johnson went 22 times for 107 yards and Bernard Scott added 18 for 87 in a 16-7 victory on. Nov. 29 in a 16-7 Bengals victory over the Browns at PBS.
SPECIAL PLAYS: Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph says Dre Kirkpatrick has the potential to be a Pro Bowl gunner and with the help of punter Kevin Huber he showed why on Sunday. With the Falcons desperately trying to cut a 24-10 lead late in the game, Kirkpatrick had a hand in downing consecutive punts on the Falcons 2 and 4, respectively. On the first one, Kirkpatrick dove to keep it out of the end one and tapped it back to long snapper Clark Harris. On the second one, he just touched it as the Falcons let it roll.
It was the coup de grace for an Atlanta offense that got nothing going all day.
"For Dre Kirkpatrick to go down and down those balls like he did and the one to reach out and dive and knock it back was important," Lewis said in his Monday news conference. "Those are big hits by Kevin to get it up there where we have a chance to make a play on it like that. You hate when you're on the other end of that and unfortunately I've been there too."
But not as much lately with guys like Huber and Kirkpatrick kicking around. The late punts somehow made the NFL's greatest punt returner of all-time a side note. Devin Hester had just one return for seven yards as Huber dropped two inside the 20. He also forced Hester to make a fair catch.
"(Huber) had two plus 50 punts yesterday which are huge to have,' Lewis said. "He had a good day yesterday. Each and every time he's called upon he has to be ready and obviously when the returners we face literally week in and week out in the NFL you know we want to make sure we limit their opportunities by ball placement throughout."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Cornerback Terence Newman continues to amaze. Since he turned 36 on Sept . 4, he hasn't missed a snap and on Sunday he scurried all over for a team-high nine tackles and three passes defensed.
"He's one of the hardest workers in practice," Guenther said. "Again, I have to say, 'Hey, Terence, take it easy. Just take a couple plays off. I need you for the long haul.' But yeah, he played his butt off yesterday. He led our team in tackles. He was tackling well, he covered well. So it's comforting to have guys like that out there." …
A guy that played an extremely gutty game was tight end Jermaine Gresham. Since he was the only tight end left standing when Alex Smith went down early in the game. Gresham played 92 percent of the snaps and had to do all the dirty work in the running game. Plus, he caught all three balls to him, including a nice leveraged 19-yard catch that put the Bengals on the edge of the red zone for the killing TD early in the second half…