It's 'Hunger Games' for Bengals line

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
1:00
PM ET
The way the Bengals' defensive line has been sacking quarterbacks, you're waiting for some comparison to the Fearsome Foursome or another memorable defense from the past. You probably weren't expecting a reference to a young adult novel about a fight to the death.

“We treat it like the Hunger Games,” Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap told reporters. “Whoever gets there first. Especially when we know its a pass, me, Geno (Atkins) and Mike (Johnson) are licking our chops like we hadn’t eaten all day, ate at like breakfast, now we got to eat.”

This quarterback feast could give the Bengals their first NFL sacks title. Cincinnati currently leads the league with 39, which is one more than the Broncos. The Bengals have never finished higher than fourth in the NFL in sacks, and that was in 1973 and 2011. The key to the Bengals' pass rush this year is how it's generated by the defensive front. Atkins (9.5 sacks), Johnson (eight) and Dunlap (four) have accounted for 55 percent of the team's sacks.

The Bengals are also on pace to break the franchise record in sacks, which was set in 2001 (48 sacks). This year's defense is averaging 3.2 sacks per game and is projected to finish with 52.

Cincinnati is looking to add to its total Sunday against the Cowboys. Tony Romo has been sacked 28 times this season, eighth-most in the NFL.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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