5 things to know after Bengals beat Vikings 42-14
Andy Dalton gets another chance to show that he and the Bengals
can be winners in the playoffs. It’s been a long time since that’s
Dalton threw four touchdown passes during a 42-14 victory over
the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the first step in a series of
events that broke the Bengals’ way and got them a division
The Bengals (10-5) clinched a playoff spot shortly after their
game ended, when Miami lost to Buffalo. They wrapped up the AFC
North title a few hours later when Baltimore lost to New England,
which currently has the No. 2 seed for the playoffs with the
Bengals at No. 3.
Dalton became only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to lead
his team to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. He has
thrown 31 touchdown passes, one behind Carson Palmer’s club record
”To be in the playoffs every year since I’ve been here is
huge,” said Dalton, who was 27 of 38 for 366 yards without an
interception. ”It gives you a chance to accomplish the ultimate
The Vikings (4-10-1) were looking for another playoff-jumbling
upset. They’d knocked off the Bears and the Eagles in the last
three weeks, and were hoping to make the Bengals sweat it out a bit
longer. Instead, Cincinnati returned a fumble to the 4-yard line,
setting up one touchdown, and linebacker Vincent Rey returned an
interception 25 yards for another score as the Bengals put it away
”Well, we did take a step back,” said Matt Cassel, who was 13
of 27 for 114 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Five things learned from the Bengals’ breakthrough win:
A TITLE TEAM: When the Bengals started the season, they set
three overriding goals: Go unbeaten at home, win the AFC North and
get deep into the playoffs. After Sunday, they can start checking
items off the list. They’re 7-0 at home and they’ve got their first
division title since 2009 and their eighth in their 46 seasons
overall. It’s the first time they’ve reached the playoffs three
seasons in a row.
Still in play: They haven’t won a playoff game since 1990, a
stretch of futility that’s tied for seventh-longest in NFL history.
Winning the division title gives them at least one home playoff
game, which could help get that breakthrough win.
HARDY AT HOME: The Bengals have scored more than 40 points in
each of their last four at Paul Brown Stadium, a club record.
They’re 7-0 at home for the first time since 1988, when they went
unbeaten and won two playoff games on their way to a Super Bowl
loss to San Francisco. They finish the regular season at home next
Sunday against Baltimore.
DALTON’S PLACE: The third-year quarterback has been particularly
good at home, throwing for five, three, three and four TDs in his
last four games at Paul Brown Stadium. The spotlight will be on him
more than anyone else heading into the playoffs. He had miserable
games during playoff losses at Houston that ended each of the last
”We’re in a really good spot right now,” Dalton said. ”We’ve
just got to keep it going.”
GENEROUS VIKINGS: Minnesota’s defense has come apart down the
stretch. The Vikings have allowed 467 points this season, the most
in the NFL. They’ve given up 40 points four times in the last nine
games, although their offense was responsible for two of the
touchdowns on Sunday because of turnovers.
”I can’t speak for the whole defense but for me, it’s
embarrassing,” defensive end Jared Allen said. ”I don’t know what
to say. I still remember the days when we thrived on defense around
PETERSON’S HOBBLED: Running back Adrian Peterson missed last
week’s game because of a sprained right foot. He was limited in
practice last week but wanted to play. He wasn’t the same, managing
45 yards on 11 carries before coach Leslie Frazier benched him in
the second half with the Bengals in control.
”I lobbied a little bit (to stay in), but is it really worth
the risk?” Peterson said. ”I don’t feel like I played with as
much confidence as I need. I was a little hesitant. My body is just
not responding like I want it to.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org