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Giovani Bernard carries Cincinnati Bengals over eliminated Detroit Lions

By
Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Bengals Giovani Bernard (25) runs the football against the Cleveland Browns during the second half of play at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 23, 2016. File photo by John Sommers II /UPI
Cincinnati Bengals Giovani Bernard (25) runs the football against the Cleveland Browns during the second half of play at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 23, 2016. File photo by John Sommers II /UPI | License Photo

CINCINNATI -- Giovani Bernard rushed for 116 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown as the Cincinnati Bengals eliminated the Detroit Lions from the playoffs with a 26-17 victory Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Detroit (8-7) needed a win and plenty of help to make the postseason, but fell flat against the struggling Bengals.

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Sunday's game might have been Marvin Lewis' last home game as Bengals head coach. Lewis' contract is up after this season and he is reportedly stepping down.

The Bengals (6-9) lost their previous two games to Chicago and Minnesota by a combined score of 67-14, and generated just 17 points over the last eight quarters.

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Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who had a 27.3 passer rating last week, the second-lowest of his career, passed for 238 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.

Matthew Stafford started the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron on a third-and-5 play in the first quarter, putting Detroit ahead 7-0.

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Ebron beat linebacker Jordan Evans, who was making his third start of the season. Evans later left the game with a head injury. Ebron had five catches for 83 yards.

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Stafford was 19 of 35 passing for 203 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Cincinnati dominated the game statistically in the first half, outgaining Detroit 194-126 yards, with 13 first downs to the Lions' six, but still trailed 7-6 at halftime on two Randy Bullock field goals.

The Lions led 10-6 when Brian Hill's 34-yard catch set up Dalton's 1-yard TD pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah, putting Cincinnati ahead 13-10.

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It was the Bengals' first second-half touchdown in three weeks.

Matt Prater missed a 50-yard field goal that would have tied the score, and Bullock connected on his third field goal early in the fourth quarter to give Cincinnati a 16-10 lead.

But, a mental error by the Bengals' Jordan Willis set up a go-ahead TD for Detroit.

When the Lions were forced to punt because of a false start on fourth-and-1 in Bengals' territory, Willis ran into the punter, resulting in a 5-yard penalty. The Lions brought the offense back out and Tion Green picked up the first down. He then scored on a 5-yard run to put Detroit ahead 17-16 with 9:49 left.

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Bullock kicked a 51-yard field goal to put Cincinnati ahead with 4:49 left and Bernard's 12-yard touchdown with 1:54 remaining knocked the Lions out of contention.

NOTES: Lions C Travis Swanson (concussion) and G T.J. Lang (foot) were inactive after missing practice last week. OT Rick Wager (ankle) practiced last week on a limited basis but also was inactive Sunday. ... Bengals LT Cedric Ogbuehi (shoulder) was inactive and RT Andre Smith (knee) was placed on injured reserve earlier last week. Clint Boling started at LT and Christian Westerman made his first start of the season at LG. ... Bengals RB Joe Mixon (concussion) returned after missing the past two games. ... Cincinnati leads the series 9-3, including six straight wins.

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