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Teddy Bridgewater returns, Minnesota Vikings clinch NFC North with win over Cincinnati Bengals

By
Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen celebrates a touchdown in the NFL International Series match against the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium, London on October 29, 2017. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen celebrates a touchdown in the NFL International Series match against the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium, London on October 29, 2017. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

MINNEAPOLIS -- Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and the Minnesota Vikings' defense dominated Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals in a 34-7 win on Sunday.

Latavius Murray added 76 yards rushing and a touchdown for Minnesota (11-3), which clinched the NFC North with its ninth win in the past 10 games.

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Brian Robison had two of the Vikings' three sacks and Eric Kendricks returned a first-quarter interception for a touchdown. Minnesota held Cincinnati to 161 yards and 1 of 13 on third down.

The Bengals were listless in front of a deafening U.S. Bank Stadium after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported before the game that head coach Marvin Lewis plans to step down after the season. Lewis has spent 15 years as Cincinnati's coach, going 123-112-3 as the all-time winningest coach in team history, but with losses in all seven playoff games.

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Dalton was 11-of-22 passing for 113 yards and two interceptions, and was replaced by backup AJ McCarron in the fourth quarter.

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The Bengals (5-9) were limited to 46 yards rushing in their third straight loss. Giovani Bernard had 14 carries for 30 yards and converted a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings left little doubt in Sunday's outcome. They drove 75 yards in nine plays on the opening drive, which was capped by Murray's 1-yard touchdown run. Minnesota had three plays of at least 20 yards on the drive.

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On Cincinnati's second possession, Kendricks had his second career interception return for a touchdown and the first defensive touchdown by the Vikings this season for a 14-0 lead.

The Bengals failed to convert a first down in the first quarter, their third straight game with zero first downs in a single quarter. Minnesota held Cincinnati to 42 net yards in the first half, the fewest for a Vikings opponent since 2010.

Keenum was 20-of-23 passing before giving way to Teddy Bridgewater for the team's first drive of the fourth quarter.

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It was Bridgewater's first appearance in a game since a devastating knee injury before the first game of last season. A fan favorite, he received a standing ovation from the home crowd. Bridgewater was 0 of 2, with an interception that went off running back Jerick McKinnon's hands.

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NOTES: Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph was active after being listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report with an ankle injury. Rudolph's status improved the past two days and he finished with two catches for 17 yards and a touchdown. ... Vikings LT Riley Reiff missed his first game of the season with an ankle injury. ... CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Joe Mixon and LB Vontaze Burfict all were inactive for Cincinnati due to concussions. ... The Bengals lost S George Iloka (shoulder), LT Cedric Ogbuehi (shoulder) and LB Vincent Rey (jaw) during the game to injuries. ... Minnesota CB Terence Newman had a third-quarter interception of QB Andy Dalton. It was his 42nd career interception, which is second to DeAngelo Hall (43) for most among active players.

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