Bengals knocking down QBs, dancing over sacks
One play in, the defensive tackle was dancing - just the latest member of the NFL's most sack-bent defense to do a little high-stepping.
The Bengals (3-1) lead the league with 17 sacks heading into their home game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (1-3). Their young-and-improving line has provided most of the sacks and the team's best dance since receiver Chad Ochocinco did the tango on ''Dancing with the Stars'' in 2010.
''Oh man, those guys are animals,'' cornerback Terence Newman said. ''Don't leave small children around them. It's fun watching those guys with the passion they play with, wanting to get the quarterback and stopping the run.''
The line has been a highlight the last two games. The Bengals had six sacks in each of the games, the first time they've done that since 2001.
Peko got it started during a 27-10 win in Jacksonville on Sunday, coming up the middle and dropping Blaine Gabbert on the first play from scrimmage. The 322-pound tackle popped up quickly, crossed his wrists and started bobbing and hopping sideways.
After a few shuffles, he raised his right arm and twirled it, his rendition of the ''Gangnam Style'' dance.
''My kids just really love that song `Gangnam Style,' so I did it for them,'' Peko said. ''I told them that if I get a sack or make a big play I would do the dance for them. Hopefully I'll keep making big plays and you'll see some more `Gangnam Style.' I was just having fun.''
So is everyone around him.
Twelve of the 17 sacks have come from four linemen. Tackle Geno Atkins had two against the Jaguars and leads all NFL interior linemen with five sacks. End Michael Johnson has four sacks, end Carlos Dunlap has two in two games, and Peko got his first on Sunday.
The front four has been able to get to the quarterback without a lot of help from blitzing linebackers or defensive backs. Dunlap was the missing element, having to sit out the first two games with a sprained knee.
''Having the complete rotation - that's the big contributor to us getting to Gabbert as a defensive line and as a whole defense,'' Dunlap said. ''Everyone being healthy and having the whole line rotation does wonders for everybody. It's not just one person making the plays. They don't know who to cover because at any given time, any one of us can get it.''
Johnson had the first big game by a lineman this season, getting a career-high three sacks during a 38-31 win in Washington. He took advantage of left tackle Trent Williams' knee injury.
Atkins, a fourth-round pick in 2010, led NFL interior linemen with 7 1/2 sacks last season, and is already well ahead of that pace.
''Geno - I'm telling you, the dude is like a little pit bull,'' Newman said. ''He's stocky, compact, and his first step is amazing. I worked out with him in the offseason. His first step is unbelievable, and he's smart. I couldn't believe this is only his third year in the league. The guy's going to be one of the best at that position for sure.''
The Bengals have one of the league's tallest lines with the 6-foot-7 Johnson, 6-foot-6 Dunlap and 6-foot-3 Peko. Atkins is the smallest at 6-foot-1, but he does most of the pushing around.
''He's unreal,'' Peko said. ''He's one of those guys when you look at his stature you're like `Oh, man. He's a smaller tackle.' But when he's out there on the field, he plays like he's 6-foot-7.''
And when they surround the quarterback, it makes it tough to see the receivers and get the ball to them.
''In the quarterback's mind, his clock is sped up and he really has to get rid of the ball, he can't hold onto it,'' safety Chris Crocker said. ''Our defensive linemen are very tall guys. Just them getting their arms up, getting around him - it's uncomfortable. As long as they continue to get the pressure like they're getting, then we'll make a lot of plays.''
NOTES: Cornerbacks Leon Hall (hamstring) and Nate Clements (calf) returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, an indication they could play against the Dolphins. Hall has missed the last two games, and Clements was sidelined against the Jaguars. ... Top draft pick CB Dre Kirkpatrick also returned to practice on a limited basis. He hurt his left knee over the summer and missed all of training camp. He returned to practice before the final preseason game, but developed tendinitis that sidelined him again.
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