CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals were in the postseason the last two seasons. They want more than just a playoff appearance this time around.
The Bengals topped the 40-point mark for the fourth consecutive home game and earned their third consecutive postseason berth with a 42-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings 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. They are still battling New England for the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
"Making it to the playoffs is a blessing," said Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. "We've made it the last two years and it's not too often that you make it to the playoffs. You can't take it for granted."
Minnesota (4-10-1) was held to 209 yards of total offense one week after putting up 455 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the second-lowest total of the season for the Vikings.
Minnesota was 0 for 9 on third down and failed to convert either of its two fourth-down attempts while managing just 10 first downs. All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson started the game despite being limited in practice this week with a bad foot but was held to 45 yards on 11 carries.
Peterson was pulled in the second half when the score got out of hand.
"I didn't think it was wise to keep playing him," said Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier. "We'll see how he is this week, but it just wasn't the right thing to do to keep him in there today."
Bengals 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. The Bengals had 429 total yards of offense. It was the seventh time this season the Bengals topped 400 yards in a game.
Cincinnati is now 7-0 at home this season and has won by an average score of 43.5-17.8 in its last four home games.
"It's tough to play on the road, so when you're home you're familiar with everything," said Dalton.
What the Vikings said:
"Turnovers are always an issue in our league. If you turn the ball over, that's hard to overcome. It's just hard to win if you're doing that." -- Head coach Leslie Frazier.
What the Bengals said:
"Once I was able to catch the ball I don't even remember, I just know I was trying to get to the end zone. When I did, I said 'OK, I have to go on kickoff next.'" -- Linebacker Vinny Rey.
What we learned about the Vikings
1. Minnesota closes out its season next week with the final game in the 32-year history of the Metrodome. The Vikings host Detroit in what could also be the final game for head coach Leslie Frazier, who has a record of 20-32-1 since taking over for Brad Childress with six games left in the 2010 season. Frazier did guide the Vikings to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance last season but with the approaching move out of the Metrodome will also be a chance for management to start fresh with its coaching staff.
2. The Vikings came into Sunday's game ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense and they lived down to that ranking. It was the seventh time this season Minnesota has allowed 300 or more yards passing in a game. Twenty of Cincinnati's 24 first downs came in the passing game, including four touchdowns.
What we learned about the Bengals
1. Quarterback Andy Dalton is back in the same kind of groove that earned him AFC Player of the Month honors in October. Dalton has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 1,069 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception in the last four games. A lot of that credit should go to the offensive line, which has kept him clean during this stretch. Dalton has been sacked just three times in the last four games. Two of those sacks came in the fourth quarter Sunday when the game was decided.
2. The Bengals have a shot at going undefeated at home for the first time since 1988 when they host Baltimore next Sunday. That was also the last season the team went to the Super Bowl. In 10 previous seasons under Marvin Lewis, the best the Bengals have done at home is 6-2 in 2009 but they've beaten Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Cleveland, Indianapolis and now Minnesota. They've outscored their opponents 241-117 at home so far, while being outscored 171-155 on the road. That's one of the reasons this team desperately wants to play at home during the postseason.