Vikings were motivated to bounce back

The Vikings say they weren't motivated by the playoffs, but rather just trying to bounce back after a loss in Arizona that seemed to embarrass them. Either way, the win secured a playoff spot.

That didn't take long.

One week after being embarrassed by the Arizona Cardinals on national television during a Sunday night game, the Vikings rebounded for a convincing 30-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at the Metrodome.

The win not only got the Vikings back on track but clinched a spot in the NFC playoffs with three weeks left in the regular season. The Vikings are now sitting at 11-2 and will wrap up their second consecutive NFC North title this Sunday with a victory at Carolina.

Minnesota actually could win the division before kickoff if the Green Bay Packers lose their late afternoon game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

The Vikings' one-sided victory over the Bengals was impressive in that it came against a team that could have clinched its division with a win. Minnesota entered Sunday having beaten only one team (the Packers) who were above .500 entering the day. That total now stands at two.

Although Vikings players said their confidence was not shaken by the loss at Arizona, they made no secret of the fact it was important to get back on track against the Bengals.

"We wanted to come out and prove that last week was a fluke and show that we are a great team," linebacker Ben Leber said. "You don't want to be in December and lose two games in a row. It was important that we come out and play well."

Coach Brad Childress said the Vikings were not even thinking about wrapping up a playoff spot yet, and cornerback Antoine Winfield made it clear the emphasis was simply on playing a solid and sound football game.

"Our focus wasn't even on (the playoff berth)," Winfield said. "The thing we wanted to focus on was having a good week of practice and going out and winning this game. It was kind of embarrassing to go out there and lose that way on Sunday night against Arizona. It's good to get it out of the way."

Although the Vikings trail the New Orleans Saints by two games in the race for the best record in the NFC, they still are playing for at least the No. 2 seed in the conference as well as the division title. The second seed would be crucial because it will mean a first-round bye in the playoffs and then a home game.

LINEUP WATCH: Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield returned after missing six games because of a foot injury. The veteran's return enabled Benny Sapp to move back to the slot position in the nickel exclusively. Winfield was impressive in his return, recording a team-leading nine tackles and also forcing a fumble late in the second quarter that led to a Ryan Longwell field goal.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6,000 — Career pass completions that Brett Favre reached in the victory over Cincinnati. That makes him the first player in NFL history to get to that mark. Favre now has 6,015 completions. Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino is second with 4,967 completions.


  • LB Jasper Brinkley made his first NFL start Sunday against Cincinnati in place of E.J. Henderson, who was lost for the season because of a broken leg suffered against Arizona. Brinkley, who finished with three tackles, came out in nickel situations. That left Ben Leber and Chad Greenway as the Vikings' linebackers.

  • WR Percy Harvin, the leading candidate for NFL offensive rookie of the year, missed his first game of the season because of migraine headaches. Harvin has dealt with the issue on occasion this season but had been able to play in all games until Sunday. He did not practice at all last week and his status for this Sunday's game at Carolina is uncertain.

  • SS Tyrell Johnson missed his first game of the season because of a concussion and was replaced by rookie Jamarca Sanford. Sanford was the Vikings' seventh-round pick last April. Brinkley was taken in the fifth round.

  • CB Karl Paymah sat out because of a knee injury. Paymah only plays occasionally on defense but he is a key member of the Vikings' special teams.

  • RB Adrian Peterson had two rushing touchdowns Sunday and now has 14 on the season, breaking the team record of 13 set by Chuck Foreman in 1975 and matched by Foreman in ‘76 and Terry Allen in ‘92.

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