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- Cincinnati Bengals
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:
By The Sports Xchange December 22, 2013 4:24 PM
CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals topped the 40-point mark for the fourth consecutive home game and earned its third consecutive postseason berth with a 42-14 win against Minnesota Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati (10-5) clinched at least a wild-card berth when Buffalo defeated Miami 19-0 a few minutes after the final gun sounded in Cincinnati. The Bengals can win the AFC North with a Baltimore loss to New England on Sunday or by beating the Ravens next Sunday in the regular-season finale. Minnesota (4-10-1) was held to 209 yards of total offense one week after putting up 455 yards against Philadelphia. It was the second-lowest total of the season for the Vikings. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton finished 27 of 38 for 366 yards, four touchdowns and a passer rating of 136.5, while wide receiver A.J. Green caught seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns to give him 10 touchdowns for the season. Cincinnati is now 7-0 at home this season and has won by an average score of 43.5-17.8 in those four games. Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the Cincinnati 49 for the Vikings but it was the Bengals who scored first. Cincinnati linebacker Vinny Rey sacked quarterback Matt Cassel and forced a fumble that defensive end Carlos Dunlap picked up and returned 42 yards to the Minnesota 4. BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the season two plays later to give Cincinnati a 7-0 lead. Minnesota capitalized on a fumble by Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham to tie the score. The Vikings needed just four plays to go 54 yards, the final 36 yards coming on a touchdown pass from Cassel to Jarius Wright on an out-and-up double move that burned cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and safety George Iloka with 10:02 left in the first quarter. Cincinnati answered by scoring the next 35 points. Dalton threw touchdown passes of 29 and 2 yards to A.J. Green and single scoring throws 16 yards Gresham and 7 yards to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, while Rey turned his second interception of the season into a 25-yard return for a touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Bengals a 21-7 lead. Cassel threw for 385 yards last week against Philadelphia in Minnesota's 48-30 win. He was just 13 of 26 for 114 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions against Cincinnati on Sunday. The Bengals came into the game ranked seventh in the NFL in pass defense. NOTES: QB Andy Dalton became just the second Cincinnati quarterback to surpass 30 touchdown passes in a season. He has 31 touchdowns, one behind Carson Palmer's franchise record of 32 touchdown passes in 2005. ... LB James Harrison (concussion) and CB Terence Newman (knee) were inactive for the Bengals. ... Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis lost a challenge for the first time this season when officials upheld their initial ruling of a runner down by contact before a fumble. Lewis had won his first six challenges. ... Minnesota WR Greg Jennings made his 100th career star. ... Cordarrelle Patterson had 143 yards on four kickoff returns for Minnesota, leaving four yards shy of Buster Rhymes' franchise record of 1,345 yards set in 1985. ... Shaun Prater, a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012, started his second consecutive game at cornerback for Minnesota in place of Xavier Rhodes.