Defensively, rookie Dre Kirkpatrick saw some playing time with Terence Newman getting dinged up. While Brady Quinn picked on Kirkpatrick, he was still strong in coverage despite a few rookie hiccups. In fact, Kirkpatrick did defend Steve Breaston on a corner route in the end zone tight enough to force an incompletion.
Geno Atkins was the star of the game, however, and finished the game with 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 pass tipped. Not showing up in the stat sheet was Atkins’ penetration against the stretch zone run, not allowing Jamaal Charles the room to accelerate.
Although the Bengals became over-anxious a few times on the Chiefs’ first scoring drive, they settled in and played overall solid against the run, with Charles being limited, by his definition, to 87 yards on 5.1 YPC and Hillis coughing up the ball on Atkins’ forced fumble. That fumble was a result of Vontaze Burfict flying up to set the edge and funnel Hillis back inside to Atkins, so it was only fitting that Burfict recover the ball.
And although Brandon Flowers is one of the better press-man cornerbacks in the league, enough so that the Chiefs elected to keep him over Brandon Carr, Andy Dalton was still able to find A.J. Green six times for 91 yards, including a 40-yard beauty down the sidelines. They also became creative to avoid the press at the line and put Green in motion.
Of course, one of the more impressive plays against Flowers was not made by Green, but Mohammed Sanu.
On Sanu’s scoring play, Tyson Jackson drops from his defensive end position to spy Dalton and provide an underneath zone. They began doing this when Dalton began taking off or run a draw play to take advantage of the Chiefs’ man coverage and heavy blitzes. After seeing that look a few times, they lined up Gresham at the bottom as an outside receiver, which took linebacker Derrick Johnson out of the middle of the field due to his man-coverage responsibilities.
Flowers, the left cornerback, lines up over Sanu in the slot inside of Gresham. Sanu runs a shallow crossing route, while Ryan Whalen, active for the injured Andrew Hawkins, runs a deeper crossing route over that. Green is the middle receiver on the top, and he runs a post which should split the two safeties up high.
While Green was likely the primary receiver, as he usually is, Sanu uses linebacker Justin Houston to screen Flowers and get a clean release. As he’s crossing, he runs directly behind Jackson in his spy position. Dalton throws it to Sanu as he emerges from the other side of Jackson, which screens Flowers from the ball.
Sanu then does what he does well, which is picking up yards after the catch. With the rest of the Chiefs secondary focusing on the deep routes from the rest of the Bengals receivers, he is able to easily stroll in for the Bengals’ fourth touchdown of the day.