Bengals pass defense takes major hit

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals' surprising season took a major hit, and it goes beyond the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Starting cornerback Leon Hall is out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Bengals will replace him with either Adam Jones or Kelly Jennings, but they won't really replace him.

Hall is Cincinnati's best all-around cornerback, which is why the Bengals signed him to a $39-million extension in September. Jones can provide playmaking ability, but he's been injury-prone during his short stint in Cincinnati.

The other option is Jennings, who is solid in the nickel defense but failed to establish himself as a starter in Seattle. The Steelers targeted Jennings a couple of times when Hall went out of the game.

With both Hall and Jones out Sunday, the Bengals were extremely thin at cornerback. They had to move starting safety Chris Crocker into nickel-back duty to make it through the game against Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati had the 10th-ranked pass defense entering Sunday's game, and one of the main reasons for the success was Hall. The 18th overall pick of the 2007 draft, Hall hasn't missed a game in his career and had started every game in each of the past three seasons.