Notebook: Streak extended, Williams irked

The Vikings were able to hold Cedric Benson under 100 yards … barely. But that didn't stop Pat Williams from expressing his displeasure with the media in the week leading up to the game. Players were also talking about the return of Antoine Winfield, the starting debut of Jasper Brinkley, the pressure on Carson Palmer, overcoming penalties and more.

With a rookie middle linebacker and a rookie safety making his first start, the Vikings were trying to trying to hold down one of the league's leading running backs.

The rookies performed decently, but it was an old veteran in the middle of the defensive line that took umbrage with the perception that Bengals running back Cedric Benson could do damage to the Vikings run defense.

"He's the same damn Benson he was in damn Chicago," Pat Williams said after the Vikings bounced the Bengals 30-10. "He got one lucky-ass run. We ain't worried about it. You all saw the score. They lost. We won."

The Vikings were able to secure their 36th straight game without allowing a 100-yard rusher, but Benson came very close. He had 96 yards rushing three minutes into the fourth quarter, but Cincinnati had to abandon the running game in an effort to score quickly.

"I just wanted to step in and hold that, stay true," said rookie middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, making his first start in the NFL because of a season-ending injury to E.J. Henderson. "Success that we did it. I felt kind of bad on that run when he creased us for like 45, 50 maybe. That was definitely on me. I take full blame for it."

Brinkley was referring to a 42-yard run by Benson late in the third quarter, the run that Williams called "lucky-ass." It was easily Benson's longest run of the game and it helped give him a 6.0-yard average on 16 carries.

Brinkley, who was making the strength calls on the field, said he slid the defensive line when he shouldn't haven't and called it a "miscue," but Williams wasn't going to miss an opportunity to sound the "us against them" rallying cry.

"You all had in the paper like he was damn God or something. We all got our own back now. It's on our team," Williams said. "People talk about it, but they're talking and they ain't playing so it doesn't matter."

Linebacker Ben Leber said Williams was motivated all week to prove something against the Bengals' sixth-ranked rushing offense, which was going against the Vikings' third-ranked run defense.

"Big Pat was talking the whole week in practice about how we need to come out and dominate the line of scrimmage," Leber said. "Those guys up front came out and set the tone, set the tempo and we just fed off them."


One of the reasons for the being able to hold Benson to under 100 yards was the return of cornerback Antoine Winfield, who missed the previous six games with a foot injury. Winfield is often credited as being the best tackling cornerback in the league and looked like it again on Sunday.

He had one of the biggest plays of the game at the end of the first half when he upended Bengals running back Brian Leonard, who had just caught a short pass in the flat. Leonard twisted in the air and dropped the ball. When Chad Greenway recovered the fumble, the Vikings were in position to get a 44-yard field goal for a 16-7 lead as time expired in the first half.

Winfield credited his film study for knowing how to handle Leonard.

"He's a jumper. You come low, he's going to jump, so I kind of stayed high, grabbed the leg. That's why we watch film – study players tendencies," Winfield said.

That was the highlight of Winfield's day. The lowlight was dropping an easy interception that was thrown right to him. He entertained the crowd by dropping down and doing 10 pushups right after the play. That's a ritual usually reserved for practice.

"I've never done it in a game before. Hopefully I won't have to do it again," he said of the pushups. "I'll watch the film on that and will definitely be upset about that one."

Winfield said he felt his foot injury "a little bit" during the game, but nothing to the extent of making him want to come out of the game.


Despite Brinkley taking responsibility for Benson's longest run of the game, teammates said the rookie did a solid job in his first start.

"Jasper is a playmaker. We see that every day in practice and we saw that in training camp," cornerback Cedric Griffin said. "He loves to hit. He knows how to read offenses and the running back. He came in and stepped up big."

Brinkley admitted to having nerves early, but he felt he did a good job once he settled down.

"First start in the NFL. Dream come true. Definitely was nervous," he said. "After a couple plays went by, then I was able to settle in and then trust my keys and just play football."

Leber said there were a couple of communication issues, but those were more the result of crowd noise than anything Brinkley did.

"It's a tough situation to come into. Obviously, he was probably anxious and nervous," Leber said. "I thought he performed pretty well coming in and making the calls in base (defense), and going downhill and making some hits."


The Vikings were penalized nine times in a physical game, but they were outdone by the Bengals, who had 11 penalties in the game.

One of the bigger Vikings penalties was cornerback Cedric Griffin getting flagged for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco. Griffin turned back to hit Ochocinco as he attempted to catch the ball and the cornerback appeared to get his hand across the receiver's helmet.

"I'm not really sure what happen. I made a great play in breaking the ball up and pushing him down on the ground. They called the penalty, so I'm not really sure," Griffin said.

That turned third-and-7 into first-and-goal, but the Bengals still had to settle for a field goal.

One player who was penalized and definitely disagreed with the call was Brian Robison, who dove to block a Bengals punt and flagged for running into the kicker.

"I didn't touch him at all. He just did a great job of acting," Robison said. "(The official) said something like, ‘He's got to be able to put his foot down.' It is what it is. It was a penalty. It didn't cost us the game or anything."

In fact, the Vikings had the Bengals back up so much at that point that they just took the 5-yard penalty and punted again.


The Vikings seemed to get to Bengals QB Carson Palmer, who was held to 94 yards passing, but Robison was the only Viking to register a sack on the Cincinnati quarterback.

"We had some looks in the back end that kind of confused them a little bit. I just did a great job getting off the ball. I faked the guy left and I came back inside and he didn't really have a chance on me. The center turned away so it left me wide open to come through the middle," Robison said.

"They've been a good offensive line against teams all season and we just made it a point to come back this week and we made a statement this week. I believe we did that."

Leber credited Robison's sack to end the Bengals' opening drive with setting the tone. The Vikings were credited with five quarterback hurries.


Adrian Peterson still only has three 100-yard rushing days this season, but he is reaping the benefits of a more explosive passing offense. Peterson set the franchise single-season mark for rushing touchdowns . He currently has 13 after scoring twice on Sunday.

"It means a lot. We've still got our main objective in front of us. It's not something I'm overly excited about because my tunnel vision is down in Miami (site of the Super Bowl)," Peterson said. "That's my main focus. Finish up the regular season and get ourselves to make a run in the playoffs."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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