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Other Week 15 Game Recaps

Week 15 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 7, Minnesota Vikings 34

What you need to know

Cincinnati Bengals

Nothing went right for the Bengals who were outclassed in every phase by the Vikings. There were few holes for Giovani Bernard to run through and he didnít make anybody miss. He scored a 1-yard garbage-time touchdown for the Bengals only score of the game. Andy Dalton threw a pair of awful interceptions and the Bengals offensive line couldnít pass protect against the Vikings pass rush.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings were able to wrap up the NFC North this week with a big win against the Bengals. The defense was dominant, Case Keenum was very efficient and accurate, and the running game showed some signs of life. One of the biggest stories was Teddy Bridgewater taking his first NFL snaps since his gruesome knee injury at the end of preseason. Unfortunately, he got a little too excited and threw an interception when he threw the ball a little too hard and the ball skipped out of Jerick McKinnon's hands. The Vikings still have something to play for as a first round Bye is not assured just yet with New Orleans and Carolina directly on their heels. With two games to go, the Vikings take on the division rival Bears and Packers to close out the season.

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 41 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 22 - 113 - 0 TD / 2 INT
Dalton will take more blame than he probably deserves for the debacle against the Vikings but he did throw two inexcusable interceptions. He threw late over the middle trying to fit it into tight coverage to Alex Erickson but a dropping linebacker easily read Daltonís eyes and picked off the pass, taking it the other way for a touchdown. On what looked to be a run-pass-option play, Dalton pulled the ball back from Giovani Bernard and threw a quick slant trying to hit Brandon LaFell but the route was well covered and undercut by Terence Newman for the easy interception. There was no running game to slow the pass rush, people in his face constantly and a couple costly drops.

QB A.J. McCarron, 14 offensive snaps, Pass: 3 - 6 - 19 - 0 TD / 0 INT
McCarron came into the game in garbage time after an interception set the Bengals up just outside the red zone. He completed a 4th-and-7 slant over the middle to Alex Erickson to keep the drive alive and eventually set up a touchdown. The next drive, McCarron badly overthrew Josh Malone on 4th-and-5 to turn it over on downs.

RB Giovani Bernard, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 30 - 1, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (5 targets)
Bernard struggled to fall forward and get the tough yards inside the tackles. After falling behind 14-0, the Bengals ran three straight times with Bernard for nine total yards. They went back to Bernard on 4th-and-1 and were stuffed for a loss. There wasnít much room to run but Bernard didnít make many guys miss and mostly went down on first contact. Bernard scored a garbage-time touchdown on a 1-yard plunge over right tackle.

WR Brandon LaFell, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 53 - 0 (6 targets)
LaFell had a bad drop early on a crossing route. He had the only long gain of the day on a 45-yard catch and run down the seam.

WR A.J. Green, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (4 targets)
Green was shadowed by Xavier Rhodes and had a very quiet day. He caught a deep pass down the sideline but didnít keep his feet in-bounds. In garbage time, Green was targeted in the end zone from 5-yards out and drew a penalty Rhodes.

TE Tyler Kroft, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (4 targets)
Kroft had a bad concentration drop on what should have been a 15-yard gain.

Minnesota Vikings

QB Case Keenum, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 23 - 236 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 20 - 0
Keenum was about as efficient as a quarterback could be against the Bengals today. He only missed 3 of his passes all day and added 2 touchdown passes for good measure. It was Keenum's solid play that gave the Vikings the chance to put Teddy Bridgewater in at the end of the game. The first touchdown pass came on a 20-yard dart to Stefon Diggs directly up the seam. The offense had struggled in the red zone to that point, but Keenum was able to lead Diggs just far enough that he was open in the end zone. The second touchdown came on a rub route by Kyle Rudolph where the big tight end ended up wide open in the end zone. The entire Vikings team was dominant and Keenum did not even have to put up the numbers he did. Keenum will have to outduel Aaron Rodgers and the Packers next Saturday night to keep pace with the Eagles for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

QB Teddy Bridgewater, 9 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 2 - 0 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0
This is more of a feel-good story than anything else. Bridgewater did not complete a pass but saw live action on the field for the first time since his gruesome knee injury at the end of preseason last year. He only had 2 pass attempts, one of which was intercepted, but the standing ovation he received for his return was enough for a mention this week.

RB Latavius Murray, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 76 - 1, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (1 targets)
The run game has been hot and cold all season since Dalvin Cook went down, but Murray seems to have taken the reins and is leading the way. He still loses touches in the passing game to Jerick McKinnon, but he is the clear lead back in regard to rushing attempts. Murray set a season-high with 20 rushing attempts this week and chipped in a touchdown for good measure. The touchdown was a 1-yard plunge after the Vikings quickly moved down the field with 3 plays of 20+ yards. Murray's longest rush was a 14-yard scamper off the right end to help set up another scoring drive and he also chipped in a 28-yard reception on the first drive of the game to help set up his own touchdown run. Murray eclipsed 100 total yards for only the third time this season but has been a solid contributor to this point. The Vikings rushing attack is going to continue to go through Murray for the final 2 games of the regular season and through the playoffs.

RB Jerick McKinnon, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 24 - 0, Rec: 7 - 114 - 0 (8 targets)
McKinnon seems to be fading towards the end of the season in the rushing department. He received 9 carries to Murray's 20 but played a major part in the passing attack against the Bengals. McKinnon was the only Viking receiver to surpass 100 yards and also lead the team in targets and receptions. The biggest play of the day came on his 41-yard catch and run down the sideline. After outrunning the linebacker in coverage, McKinnon did not have anyone in front of him and was able to scamper down the sideline until a safety was able to come over and make the stop. McKinnon seems to have taken to his role very well in recent weeks and has made the best of the passing opportunities given him.

WR Stefon Diggs, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 5 - 30 - 1 (6 targets)
Just like Adam Thielen, Diggs was quieted by the Bengal's defense outside of a single play. 20 of his 30 yards came on that single play, but more importantly, that was also a Viking touchdown. Diggs ran straight up the seam and Keenum fit the ball in the narrow window between corner and closing in safety. Diggs took a big hit on the play but instantly bounced back up to celebrate the touchdown catch. He had 4 more receptions in the game but only managed 10 yards. Diggs was not on the field when Teddy Bridgewater came in to relieve Case Keenum but at that point, there were not many Viking starters left in the game. Diggs is going to need to continue to play well to close out the season if the Vikings want to secure a first-round bye.

WR Adam Thielen, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets)
This was a rather quiet game for Thielen as the Bengals schemed to take him out of the Viking offense. Corners were placed on him and they played press coverage at the line to disrupt any timing he may have had with Keenum. Of his 30 yards, 21 of them came on a single catch and he was effectively shut out for the rest of the game. The 21-yard catch and run by Thielen got the Vikings to the Bengal 5-yard line and set up an eventual Latavius Murray touchdown run. With Thielen being shut down, the Viking offense showed tremendous balance and the ability to score and win without one of their top guys having a good game.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 1 (2 targets)
Despite an ankle injury and being ruled as doubtful all week, Rudolph ended up suiting up for the Vikings and having an impact. The big tight end only managed 2 catches, but one of those was for a touchdown. 16 of his 17 yards came on a single play, and the touchdown came on a 1-yard reception. Rudolph ran an out route where his linebacker in coverage was rubbed off. He was found all alone in the end zone for an easy Viking touchdown. His play was limited this week due to the injury and he was subbed out in many of the running packages. The Vikings actually ran the ball more than they threw it this week and that limited what Rudolph had to do.