PASSING OFFENSE: B — Brett Favre threw for only 192 yards — his lowest total since passing for 155 in Week 2 at Detroit — but there was nothing wrong with that considering the Vikings recorded a 30-10 victory over Cincinnati. Favre actually played the way many expected he would when he arrived in Minnesota. He did not have a starring role, something he has done many times this season, but rather was more of a game manager. He threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice in the second quarter and also had an interception in the first quarter. That was Favre's third pick in the past two games after he threw three in the first 11 games. The Bengals, though, went three-and-out on their next series. Favre completed 17 of 30 passes, connecting with Bernard Berrian and Rice four times apiece and Adrian Peterson three times. The veteran was sacked twice and hurried six times but said he was no worse for the wear coming out of the game.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B — Adrian Peterson rebounded from a 19-yard rushing performance — the second-worst of his career — versus Arizona to rush for 97 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns against a Bengals rush defense that was ranked second in the NFL entering the game. Overall, the Vikings rushed for 142 yards on 37 carries, including 25 yards on five attempts from veteran Chester Taylor. The Vikings offensive line deserved plenty of credit, especially considering the fact they are extremely banged up. Four-fifths of the line missed practice last week because of injury and center John Sullivan appeared to suffer some sort of leg injury on Sunday. Sullivan did not leave the game. In addition to his rushing yardage and three receptions for 40 yards, Peterson also did not fumble the ball on 29 touches. That was important considering his struggles in that area.
PASS DEFENSE: A-minus — The Vikings made an impressive rebound in this area. With veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield returning after a six-game absence, the Vikings gave up only 103 yards passing to Carson Palmer and J.T. O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan entered late in the game after Palmer threw for 94 yards. This was quite a difference from the previous week when Arizona's Kurt Warner passed for 285 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-17 victory over the Vikings. Granted, the Bengals don't have near the receiving threats that the Cardinals posses but it still was a big improvement for the Vikings and certainly will build some confidence. Palmer did throw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco in the second quarter when cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Winfield seemed to have some confusion as to where they should be but that was Cincinnati's only touchdown of the day.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — Talk about bend but don't break. Bengals running back Cedric Benson finished with 96 yards on 16 carries, meaning the Vikings' streak of not allowing an individual to rush for 100 yards has now reached an NFL-high 36 games. Much of Benson's damage came on a 42-yard run in the third quarter that set up a Cincinnati field goal. Rookie Jasper Brinkley, making his first NFL start at middle linebacker in place of the injured E.J. Henderson (broken leg), said afterward that Benson's big run was his fault because he had shifted the defensive line incorrectly while making a call. Overall, the Vikings continue to be extremely tough against the run and defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams actually appear to be getting better as the season goes on. This is especially true for veteran Pat Williams.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B — The absence of Percy Harvin is certainly a blow to the Vikings' kickoff return game — the rookie is among the NFL leaders with an average of 29 yards on 34 returns — but wide receiver Darius Reynaud is a capable replacement. Reynaud averaged 27 yards on two kick returns and 12 yards on five punt returns. Most importantly, the Vikings did not give up a long kickoff or punt return against, something that has been a weakness of late. The absence of key special-teams player Karl Paymah appeared to be big but his replacements did just fine. Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford, who had been playing mainly on special teams, stepped into starting roles on defense but that didn't seem to hurt these units. Kicker Ryan Longwell continued to be extremely steady, hitting on field goals of 41, 23 and 44 yards.
COACHING: B — After a 13-point loss at Arizona on national television, Brad Childress deserves credit for keeping his team focused and making it clear he simply felt it was a one-game blip. That's exactly what it turned out to be as the Vikings rebounded by cruising past the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were a much better matchup for the Vikings in part because their strength (the run game) also is the Vikings' strength on defense. Childress didn't get fancy and if anything got his team back to basics. It worked to perfection as the Bengals never held the lead and the Vikings began to pull away after a scoreless first quarter.
Grading the game: Bengals
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