Chad Ochocinco will get most of the attention for his big game and his post-touchdown antics, but the Cincinnati Bengals’ 23-13 win over the Detroit Lions was a total team effort — and another step toward an AFC North title for Cincinnati.
The win improves the Bengals’ record to 9-3 and just about wraps up the division: Cincinnati owns the tiebreaker over both the Pittsburgh Steelers (who fell to 6-6 with today’s loss to the Raiders) and the Baltimore Ravens (who are 6-5 and play the Packers Monday night). Barring a total collapse, the AFC North belongs to the Bengals.
Today’s game belonged to the Bengals thanks to both Ochocinco (who had nine catches for 137 yards) and Cedric Benson (who had 36 carries for 110 yards). The Bengals’ offense was far from perfect, with Carson Palmer throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble, but Cincinnati did what it needed to do: Took an early lead against the Lions and protected that lead.
The Lions played a typical Lions game: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson was superb, catching six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the team was lousy. The game had a particularly ugly ending for Detroit as rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford appeared to aggravate the injury to his non-throwing shoulder he suffered two weeks ago. Stafford ended the game on the sidelines, with Daunte Culpepper playing in his place.
The Lions have been the laughingstocks of the league for several years, but they can take solace in knowing that the Bengals spent quite a few years as the laughingstocks of the league, too. Now the Bengals have clinched a winning record and are heading toward the playoffs.