MIAMI — Unbelievably, in a span of three games, the Bengals appear to have lost their two best defensive players for the season. First, cornerback Leon Hall with an Achilles tear in Detroit and now two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins with what the club fears is a torn ACL suffered late in the first half of Thursday night's 22-20 overtime loss to the Dolphins.
"We're still trying to get over that," defensive tackle Domata Peko said as Atkins hobbled through the locker room on crutches with a knee brace. "It stinks. He's one of the best and he's such a big part of our defense. Bengals Nation say prayers for him. In this league, it's all about next man up."
That man is sophomore Brandon Thompson and he played well as the Bengals adjusted to a running game that ripped them for 142 yards in the first half but got just 15 in the second. With Devon Still (elbow) out, it was only Peko and Thompson with no tackle rotation.
"It was hard to see him go down," Thompson said. "Right now we're kind of thin. Next man up. You have to keep it ticking. You've been preparing for it for all your life, now it's my time to step up."
» Bengals kicker Mike Nugent had just kicked a 54-yarder with 1:21 left in regulation to give the Bengals a 20-17 lead. He had made a "solid" 59-yarder in warmups going the same way. But even though he wanted to kick a 57-yarder in OT, he saw why head coach Marvin Lewis decided to punt because "I wanted to pin them back" like he did in the wins over Buffalo and Detroit.
"If I miss, they only have to go 15 yards for a field goal," Nugent said. "As much as I wanted to be out there it was probably the right decision."
» Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said the Bengals picked up the blitz on the edge on the Dolphins winning sack, but left end Cameron Wake cut across right guard Kevin Zeitler's face and went past him and quarterback Andy Dalton "never saw him."
» The Bengals suffered four turnovers for the third game this season. Dalton said cornerback Brent Grimes's 94-yard return for a TD, the second-longest return ever against the Bengals, was due to the ball slipping out of his hand. Wide receiver Mo Sanu dropped a ball for a pick and wide receiver A.J. Green took the blame for the third one, saying he didn't go back to the ball.
"That was my fault. I should have came back a little harder to the ball, trying to stay long and then get out of bounds. So I was just trying to shoot him off; I should've came back to the ball, that's my fault," Green said.
With a career-high 11 catches to go with 128 yards, Green still did what only one Bengal has done before him with his fourth straight 100-yard game. Carl Pickens did it late in the 1994 season.
Dalton also broke Ken Anderson's club record with his fourth straight 300-yard game with 338.
» Cornerback Terence Newman was trying to save the game with his 38-yard pass interference penalty on wide receiver Mike Wallace in OT. Wallace raced by him one-on-one on a "stutter" step and Newman dragged him down at about midfield to prevent a winning TD.
"I figure to put the ball right there and we get another chance to make some plays," Newman said. "Because we played so hard all day. You couldn't have it end like that."