The Cincinnati Bengals will be playing football in the postseason for the third-straight year. Today’s win over the Minnesota Vikings combined with the Miami Dolphins losing to the Buffalo Bills means Cincinnati has clinched at least a Wild Card berth.
A Patriots loss temporarily puts the Bengals in the AFC No. 2 seed, but they’d have to win next week to ensure they keep while also winning the AFC North.
A Ravens loss clinches the AFC North for the Bengals, and they can climb into the No. 2 seed with a win next week vs. the Ravens combined with a Patriots loss to the Bills.
As for today’s game, the Bengals dominated the Vikings on the strength of Andy Dalton’s arm and a smothering defensive effort. Dalton finished the day 27-of-38 for 366 yards, four touchdowns and a career-high passer rating of 136.5.
Two TDs went to wide receiver A.J. Green, one to Mohamed Sanu and the other to tight end Jermaine Gresham.
The other offensive score was a 4-yard TD run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis after Viking quarterback Matt Cassel was strip-sacked by Vincent Rey with an assist from Reggie Nelson, and defensive end Carlos Dunlap picked up the loose ball and ran it down to the MIN-4 yard-line before he was tackled.
That gave the Bengals an early 7-0 lead, and after a three-and-out by the Vikings, the next drive ended with Gresham fumbling the ball away, the Vikings took advantage of Dre Kirkpatrick for their first touchdown as Dre bit on the pump-fake to Jarius Wright, went for a fake and stumbled, allowing Wright to run past him for a 36-yard score.
The Bengals responded with 35-straight points as the Vikings didn’t score again until Cordarrelle Patterson’s 35-yard TD run with two minutes left in the third quarter.
All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson was held to 45 yards on 11 carries. Cassel was 13-or-27 for 114 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. George Iloka, Rey Maualuga and Vinnie were the players who recorded interceptions.
The one defensive score came via a pick-6 by Rey, who had a Defensive Player of the Week performance with his strip-sack, an interception and a pass deflection.