I wrote a feature on Geno Atkins for the magazine’s November issue. I spent the past few months reporting and writing, and was actually happy with the finished product. It went live online and on newsstands last week prior to the Bengals Thursday night game. It was also one of a few articles written last week about Atkins and the team’s defense, the new NFL media darlings. Coupled with a 6-2 record and a nationally televised game on NFL Network, it had the potential to be a big week for the Bengals. And it was. Just not quite in the way we initially thought.
1. Geno Atkins
With 4:45 left in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Dolphins, the pile resulting from a Miami run play dispersed to reveal Atkins on the ground, removing his helmet and wincing in pain.
My immediate thought was “…get up…” followed about three seconds later by “OH GOD PLEASE GET UP,” followed by this about two seconds after that:
Followed by the broadcast cutting to commercial, after which I drove to the liquor store, bought every bottle on every shelf, and drank all of it, then curled up in the fetal position, played Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and cried for hours. I didn’t care about my article. I didn’t even care whether the Bengals won or loss. (Spoiler alert: they lost, 22-20, in overtime, on a walk-off safety.) I just feared the worst regarding the injury. I felt terrible for Geno. I felt bad for the team, who also lost Leon Hall a couple weeks earlier. I felt bad for Bengals fans, myself included. I felt sick to my stomach.
On Friday, the fear was fully realized. Geno Atkins—heart of the team’s defense, All-Pro defensive tackle—was out for the season. Blergh.
2. Thursday Night Football
Through all of the in-game analysis done by Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock during these NFL Network game’s each week, the one thing they never discuss is the most obvious for everyone watching at home: These Thursday night games are always terrible. Regardless of which teams are playing and what their records are, it’s obvious each week that NFL players need more than three days to recover if they hope to perform up to their usual ability. The Bengals, for instance, were playing their ninth game in eight-and-a-half weeks (they haven’t had a bye yet), their last game a late-afternoon contest against the Jets, and had to travel to Miami. It doesn’t mean Roger Goodell or the greedy NFL are to blame for the Bengals loss or Geno’s injury. That would be petty and bitter and irrational. Either situation could have easily occurred on a Sunday night game after a bye week. (I mean, the Bengals did score six points in a loss to the Browns earlier this year, so it’s not like losing to the Dolphins was outside the realm of belief.) But that was an ugly game—on both sides—and can certainly be added to the long list of reasons why Thursday Night Football may not be the best idea the league has ever had.
3. The ‘Nard Dawg
The lone bright spot for the Bengals:
(h/t Kissing Suzy Kolber)
4. Andy Dalton
After three straight strong weeks from QB1, it was rough pumpkins for Dalton against Miami: 32/53 (60 percent…meh) for 338 yards (6.4 yards-per-attempt), 0 TDs (with one called back on a questionable holding penalty), 3 INT (one of which was the result of a Mo Sanu drop), a 55.4 QB rating, and an abysmal 13.5 QBR. As I wrote last week, he’ll have days like these from time to time. I’m interested to see how (or if) he bounces back against the Ravens this Sunday after an extended prep period.
5. AFC North
The Steelers lost (again) and the Browns beat the Ravens, giving the Bengals a two-game lead in the AFC North standings despite the loss to Miami. They have division games against the Ravens and Browns the next two weeks before what will likely be a much-needed bye in Week 12. Time to make the donuts.
Not entirely relevant, but: The Kansas City Chiefs are currently 9-0. The last time the Chiefs were 9-0, this happened.
Pouring one out…
I look forward to a quick recovery and can’t wait to get back on the field next year!!!
— Geno Atkins (@GenoSacks) November 1, 2013
He’s the reason for these teardrops on my keyboard. Get well soon, Geno.