Bengals Earn Rare Prime Time Victory


Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With the rare (and largely unexpected) prime time victory Monday night, the Bengals clinched their fourth straight playoff appearance.  It was an affair that saw just about everything.  Jeremy Hill had another huge night with 147 yards on the ground including an 86-yard touchdown run.  Yet, Hill also had a big mistake in the third quarter by fumbling the ball when the Bengals were in the redzone.

Andy Dalton started the game with a poor throw on a slant route that led to Aqib Talib‘s diving interception, which he returned for a pick six.  Dalton never played particularly well in the game, but managed to compose himself enough to make some necessary throws en route to the victory.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals played dominant football in the first half, shutting out the Broncos with the exception of the pick six.  In the third quarter, the defense seemed to come apart as the Broncos made some necessary adjustments and began to chew up the defense by limiting the pressure it applied to Peyton Manning and by picking on Terence Newman, who seemed a step slow all evening when defending either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders.

When the fourth quarter began, the Bengals made the necessary adjustments themselves as they once again shutout the Broncos in a quarter.  They even managed to intercept three passes in the fourth quarter alone (four in the game).  Dre Kirkpatrick stepped up in a big way after replacing Newman in several situations.  Kirkpatrick had two of the three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown, which essentially sealed the game.

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With the win, the Bengals have clinched their fourth straight playoff appearance in the Andy Dalton era.  This coming Sunday night, the Bengals will get another opportunity to prove their merit during a big time, prime time game when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the division crown.  The winner of the game will earn the AFC’s third seed in the playoffs as the Bengals would hypothetically finish a half game ahead of the Colts and the Steelers hold the tiebreaker over Indianapolis.  If somehow the Broncos manage to lose to the Raiders in Week 17, the Bengals could actually move into the second seed with a win over the Steelers.