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Bengals overcome key injuries to pound Falcons

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The Cincinnati Bengals overcame a litany of injuries with a strong defensive effort in a 24-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Our takeaways:

1. This was a costly win for Cincinnati. With Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert already sidelined, the Bengals lost offensive focal point A.J. Green to an injury that NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports is turf toe. Four more players, including Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict (stinger) and starting guard Kevin Zeitler (calf), were also forced from the game.

2. The Bengals haven't missed Mike Zimmer. After putting Joe Flacco through one of the longest afternoons of his career last week, the Bengals defense did the same to Matt Ryan on Sunday. If the NFL's best defense calls Seattle home, the second-best might reside on the banks of the Ohio River.

3. After playing a key role in four-wide sets versus the Saints last week, Devin Hester was an afterthought in Cincinnati. His playing time will vary depending on game momentum and matchups.

4. Once Green was lost for the day, the Bengals were forced to turn Giovani Bernard into a workhorse, putting the ball in his hands a career-high 32 times. His 169 yards are also the high-water mark for his short career. The Bengals' offense worked best on desperation dumpoffs that Bernard turned into big gains. Even with rookie Jeremy Hill playing a bigger role (96 yards on 17 touches), Bernard is the clear lead back.

5. Mohamed Sanu deserves a game ball for burning Robert Alford on a 76-yard touchdown and uncorking a perfect 50-yard pass over two defenders and into Brandon Tate's hands for a big play.

6. Safety George Iloka deserves a game ball of his own for two interceptions and ripping the ball out of Julio Jones' hands on a play that would have put the Falcons ahead by a touchdown in the second quarter. It might have been the game's most pivotal play.

7. Falcons right tackle Lamar Holmes has shown no improvement after allowing 10 sacks in a disappointing 2013 season. He was worked over by Carlos Dunlap, who hit Ryan five times on Sunday.

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