It was a must-win for the Bengals to keep their playoff hopes alive. They needed a win and a loss or tie by the Miami Dolphins in order to clinch a playoff spot. In order to clinch the AFC North, they needed a win as well, but also a loss or tie by the Baltimore Ravens. It looked promising for the Bengals to get their win on Sunday since they were playing a Vikings team that is winless on the road, while the Bengals are undefeated at home this season.
The Bengals were able to completely dominate the Vikings on their way to their 10th win of the season, earning a spot in this year’s NFL playoffs in the process. The champion of the AFC North is yet to be determined since the Ravens will not play until later on Sunday afternoon, but the Bengals are one step closer to it with a win. Now, they just need to hope for a loss by the Ravens.
The Bengals dominated the Vikings from the start. Matt Cassel fumbled the ball on the Vikings’ opening drive and it was recovered by the Bengals. It eventually led to a touchdown by Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Cassel was responsible for all four turnovers the Vikings had in the game as he also threw three interceptions. Those turnovers led to 14 points by the Bengals.
The Bengals’ defense was very stingy in the first half and only allowed the Vikings 100 total yards of offense and one touchdown. They were also able to force three turnovers by the Vikings in the first half alone and not allow them to convert once on third down. For the game, they held the Vikings to 209 total yards and still did not allow them any third-down conversions.
The Bengals’ defense also forced Cassel to throw another interception late in the game to allow their offense to run the clock out.
On the offensive side, Andy Dalton was able to beat the Vikings with his arm thanks to great protection by the Bengals’ offensive line. The Vikings defense was only able to get into the backfield once to sack Dalton. The Bengals’ offense had 429 total yards, most of which came in the passing game. Dalton threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns on the way to a 42-14 win for the Bengals. A.J. Green led all Bengals receivers with seven receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
With the Buffalo Bills helping the Bengals out and beating Miami, the Bengals have clinched a playoff spot for the third straight season. Bengals fans everywhere will now become fans of the New England Patriots for the day, hoping they can knock off the Ravens and allow the Bengals to also clinch the AFC North.