It was only Kirkpatrick's second start of his third season. In it, he played every snap.
Never before had Kirkpatrick played a full 100 percent of the defensive snaps in a game, and for only the third time in his career, he was part of 59 plays or more. According to Pro Football Focus' snap counts, he had exactly 59 in the 27-17 regular-season finale loss to the Steelers.
After playing arguably the best game of his career last Monday night when he intercepted Peyton Manning twice in the final three minutes of a win, Kirkpatrick was mostly OK on Sunday other than the one time he gave up a 63-yard touchdown pass to Steelers wide out Antonio Brown. It's hard to say Kirkpatrick was awful on the fourth-quarter touchdown, though. He was in the perfect position on the pass from Ben Roethlisberger, the throw just went to the perfect spot Kirkpatrick couldn't have been anticipating. As the throw came, Brown grabbed Kirkpatrick and subtly swam around him to get to the spot where the throw went.
Because of its placement, Kirkpatrick called it the best throw he has had to defend in his career.
The result of the touchdown notwithstanding, Kirkpatrick has clearly earned the trust of his coaches the past two weeks. Marvin Lewis was asked Monday if he thought the backup had earned more playing time for whenever Newman returned fully healthy. Lewis declined to answer. We'll see in this Sunday's wild-card round playoff game at Indianapolis if Kirkpatrick plays with a presumably healthy Newman back in the starting rotation.
Kirkpatrick's playing time was the most noteworthy part of this week's snap counts, but here are the complete snap-count numbers for the Bengals from Sunday night:
OFFENSE (71 plays)*
OG Clint Boling (71), OT Andrew Whitworth (71), C Russell Bodine (71), OG Kevin Zeitler (71), OT Eric Winston (71), QB Andy Dalton (71), WR Mohamed Sanu (67), WR A.J. Green (63), H-back Ryan Hewitt (46), WR Brandon Tate (45), RB Jeremy Hill (42), TE Jermaine Gresham (38), RB Giovani Bernard (30), TE Kevin Brock (10), WR Dane Sanzenbacher (7), OT Marshall Newhouse (6), RB Rex Burkhead (1).
DEFENSE (59 plays)*
LB Vincent Rey (59), S George Iloka (59), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (59), S Reggie Nelson (59), CB Leon Hall (54), DE Carlos Dunlap (53), LB Emmanuel Lamur (48), DE Wallace Gilberry (44), LB Rey Maualuga (39), DT Domata Peko (38), CB Adam Jones (36), DE Robert Geathers (35), DT Geno Atkins (34), DT Brandon Thompson (26), DE Margus Hunt (6).
SPECIAL TEAMS (24 plays)**
S Shawn Williams (22), LB Nico Johnson (22), LB Chris Carter (17), LB Marquis Flowers (17), S Taylor Mays (16), Burkhead (16), Hunt (15), CB Darqueze Dennard (14), Hewitt (14), Brock (12), Kirkpatrick (12), Peko (9), Nelson (9), K Mike Nugent (8), LS Clark Harris (7), P Kevin Huber (7), Jones (6), Rey (6), CB Chris Lewis-Harris (5), Gilberry (5), Lamur (5), Dunlap (5), Hall (5), RB Cedric Peerman (4), OG Mike Pollak (4), Newhouse (4), Tate (4), Whitworth (4), Boling (4), Zeitler (4), Sanzenbacher (3), Gresham (1).
Note: *Counts come from PFF. **Counts come from NFL's GSIS.