The Bengals came into Sundays’ game against the Lions looking to get a win over one of the worst teams in the league.Matthew Stafford came in looking for a way to turn the struggling Detroit franchise around and get them on the winning track.Things looked to be going pretty good for Stafford when he hit wide receiver Calvin Johnson for a 54 yard touchdown late in the first quarter to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.The Bengals came out flat.The offense wasn’t moving the ball and the defense had given up a big play giving Detroit a reason to believe they had a chance.
On the Lions next possession the started moving the ball easily down the field again.That’s when a particular play happened that change the momentum of the game.Linebacker Dhani Jones blitzed up the middle and sacked Stafford at the Detroit 37 yard line but he was called for 15 yard face mask penalty.This play could have swung the emotion of the Bengals either way but it was apparent that it fired them up for the rest of the day.Three plays later defensive tackle Michael Johnson deflected a Stafford pass that Jonathan Fanene picked off and returned 45 yards for the game tying touchdown.Detroit went three and out on the following possession and then it was the offense’s turn.
Cedric Benson made his return from a hip injury and ran all over the Lions defense as if he hadn’t missed a day.Palmer had a big day throwing to Chad Ochocinco and ended the next drive with a 36 yard touchdown connection. By halftime the score was Cincinnati 17, Detroit 7.The Bengals took the second half kick off and marched down the field for a seven minute drive that ended with a field goal.
A lot of Bengals fans have been concerned about the lack touchdowns the Bengals have been scoring lately.Carson Palmer hasn’t been syncing up with his receivers over the last couple of weeks.The game against the Lions looked to be chance to get the passing game back in rhythm being that Detroit came in with the worst ranked pass defense.Carson and Chad made the most of the opportunity as Chad ended the day with 9 catches for 137 yards.The fans were wanting more points later in the game but the Bengals did what they had to do and finished off the Lions 23-13.
The Bengals improved their record to 9-3 and stretched their lead in the AFC North standings as both Pittsburgh and Baltimore lost, dropping their records to 6-6.That puts the magic number for winning the division at 1.But the Bengals have more to play for than just winning the division.They have a legitimate shot at getting the number 2 seed in the AFC which would give them an important bye week in the playoffs.
The next couple of games for the Bengals look to be very big tests.This week they travel to Minnesota to play the NFC North leading Vikings.Prior to last week some analyst considered the 10-1 Vikings to be the best team in the NFL but the Vikings hit a major bump in the road this past week.Minnesota played Sunday night in Arizona and were completely manhandled by the Cardinals.The Cardinals’ defense shut down Vikings running attack and put pressure on quarterback Brett Favre all night. They sacked Favre three times and forced him to make several bad throws, two of which were intercepted.The Vikings lost 30-17.
Surely the Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will have his guys licking their chops with the tape of this game but it will not be easy to repeat.Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is one of the best players in the game and will not be easy to stop, especially with the Bengals premier run stopper, Domata Peko out this week.If they can contain Peterson they will still have to deal with veteran quarterback Brett Favre.Favre has been having a great year but some critics wonder how long the 40 year old quarterback can keep it going.On the defensive side for Minnesota the Bengals will have their hands full with Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen.The Vikings suffered a big blow in the Cardinals game when they lost middle linebacker E.J. Henderson to a broken knee.
The Bengals come into this game as 7 point underdogs.This is nothing new for the Bengals as they have been underdogs in most of their games this year.But the fact remains that the Bengals have won every game that they were picked as underdogs.I predict that the Bengals will keep that trend going and beat the Vikings with a close 26-23 victory.In the grand scheme of things this game really isn’t that important for the Bengals playoff run.The game the following week in San Diego will go a lot farther in determining who gets the number 2 seed behind the Colts.But a win in Minnesota would most definitely bring in some much deserved respect for the guys in stripes.