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Vikings rebound, pound Bengals

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Associated Press
December 14, 2009
— Brad Childress uses video clips, a dry wit and his psychology degree to address the Minnesota Vikings in team meetings the night before games, and for this week’s message the coach used an auto racing analogy.

That lopsided loss at Arizona? Just a pit stop, Childress insisted.


Adrian Peterson ran 26 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns, pushing the Vikings past the mistake-prone Cincinnati Bengals in a bruising 30-10 victory on Sunday.


“We wanted to come out and show to ourselves that this is the Vikings team you have seen all year,” said Peterson, who added 40 yards receiving and set a single-season franchise record with 14 rushing touchdowns.


Minnesota (11-2) clinched a spot in the playoffs and moved within one win—or one Green Bay loss—of a second straight NFC North title. Brett Favre wasn’t great, completing 17 of 30 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but the defense responded to linebacker E.J. Henderson’s devastating injury last week with an inspired effort while welcoming hard-hitting cornerback Antoine Winfield back.


“They sent a message and set a tone early in the game,” said Cedric Benson, whose 16 carries for 96 yards gave him his first 1,000-yard season. “Today was a big learning lesson.”


Cincinnati (9-4) committed 11 penalties for 85 yards and failed to clinch the AFC North when Baltimore won, and the Vikings held Carson Palmer to a season-low 94 yards passing.


Migraines kept standout rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin out, robbing Favre of his trusty third-down target. But against the league’s top defense in that category, the Vikings converted eight of 14 opportunities. They also hung a season-high total on the NFL’s stingiest scoring defense.


“I don’t think I’m falling apart in December like most people seem to think,” Favre said. “So I feel fine. I don’t feel much different than most guys in that locker room at this stage of the season.”


Still perfect

New Orleans and Indianapolis remained undefeated Sunday, joining five other NFL teams to reach 13-0. The Colts beat Denver 28-16, breaking NFL records for most consecutive regular-season wins (22) and most wins in a decade (114), plus wrapping up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.


Indy’s 114th victory of the decade broke a tie with the 1990s San Francisco 49ers and set a franchise record with its 13th consecutive home win. Meanwhile, New Orleans set a franchise record for wins in a season, clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs and moved a step closer to home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.


Marshall law

Brandon Marshall set an NFL record with 21 catches in Denver’s 28-16 loss to Indianapolis on Sunday, surpassing the mark San Francisco’s Terrell Owens set on Dec. 17, 2000. Marshall finished with 200 yards and two touchdowns and bettered his team record of 18 catches, set on Sept. 14, 2008, against San Diego.


Milestones

Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning passed Warren Moon for fourth on the NFL’s yards passing list. Moon had 49,325, while Manning now has 49,513. ... Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, the NFL’s leading rusher, pushed past Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell’s franchise mark of 1,981 yards from scrimmage in 1980. Johnson also has the team mark with eight straight 100-yard rushing games, breaking his tie with Campbell at seven.


Injured

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware was hospitalized with a sprained neck, sustained when he slammed headfirst into a San Diego Chargers lineman in the fourth quarter of a 20-17 loss Sunday night. ... Tennessee QB Vince Young strained his right hamstring against the St. Louis Rams and didn’t return . ... Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski left the game vs. Washington with partially sprained ligaments in both knees and was replaced by JaMarcus Russell.



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