The Bengals finished the 2012 season as arguably the best defense in the entire NFL, and facing one of the league’s best offenses in the the Atlanta Falcons, they looked as a sharp as ever.
Matt Ryan and the majority of the Falcons’ starters were on the field for three drives, and were able to muster just 3 points. The Bengals starters were only out there for two drives, while the third drive featured mostly backups.
The linebackers, particularly James Harrison, were impressive. The former Pittsburgh Steeler looked very spry tonight, and made several plays in the Falcons backfield, one of which saw him stand-up Steven Jackson for a loss. He was also used in a variety of blitzes off the edge and from the interior. He’s clearly going to make an already great defense even better. Speaking of Jackson, he was held to 8 yards on 5 carries.
The one big play the defense did give up was quick-hitter to Harry Douglas on a cornerback blitz that left him free to run 42 yards and put the Falcons in field goal range.
The backups were just as effective, and the Bengals as a whole held Atlanta to a mere 268 yards of total offense, and just 10 points.
The Bengals also established the run early and often gashing the Falcons for 224 yards on 41 carries (5.5 ypc).