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Cincinnati at Detroit

Bengals clinch AFC North, close in on franchise-best record

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

DETROIT -- The Cincinnati Bengals have shed their laughingstock image, winning their first division title since 1990 against a team that fits their former reputation.

Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes in the first half and Deltha O'Neal had one of three interceptions to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to a 41-17 victory over Detroit.

"It's a great accomplishment, and it's one of the many goals we set out to do," said Palmer, who has thrown 30 TD passes this season, breaking Ken Anderson's team record by one set in 1981. "We still have two tough games left, and a chance to get a bye."

Cincinnati (11-3) won its fourth straight game to claim the AFC North, adding to a sensational season after 14 straight years without a winning record.

"Even a garbage can gets a steak now and again," said offensive tackle Willie Anderson, a Bengal since 1996.

Hundreds of fans made the short trek from Ohio to celebrate. They gathered behind the Bengals bench and near the exit late in the game to cheer in a near-empty stadium that was jeering the home team at every opportunity when it was almost full.

"It was a weird, eerie feeling," Palmer said. "It was quieter when we were on the field than it is at home."

The Bengals have a chance for their best record ever, having gone 12-4 in 1981 and 1988. They made the Super Bowl both years.

If they make it to the title game again, they'll return to Detroit's Ford Field.

"I'm happy and elated, but our biggest goal is to get back here," Anderson said.

The reeling Lions (4-10) lost their fifth in a row, and seventh of eight since sharing the division lead.

"We are suffering," said Detroit's interim coach Dick Jauron, who fell to 0-3.

The tone was set on the opening kickoff when Detroit's R.W. McQuarters fumbled. By the end of the first quarter, the Bengals led 17-0 after Palmer threw two TDs and they forced two turnovers.

"That's what you fear against a team like that," Jauron said.

Palmer was 28-of-39 for 274 yards with three TDs, matching a season high, and two interceptions. He connected with Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- who left the game with an ankle injury -- and Kelley Washington on scoring throws.

Johnson had a career-high 11 catches for 99 yards, and when he caught a 1-yard TD pass in the first quarter, the flamboyant receiver looked around before simply handing the football to the official.

"This game was too important," he said of his decision not to celebrate. "I just wanted to play it safe, because we needed a win."

Rudi Johnson had 117 yards rushing and two TDs. He scored on the first drive after halftime to put the Bengals ahead 31-7, and added a second TD early in the fourth.

Detroit's Jeff Garcia was 13-of-21 for 138 yards with one TD and three interceptions, including one to O'Neal, who broke a team record with 10 interceptions for the season. Garcia was replaced by Joey Harrington early in the fourth quarter, a move that drew cheers, and Harrington finished 6-of-7 for 77 yards and a TD.

Harrington, the third pick of the 2002 draft, acknowledged it might have been his last home game as a Lion.

"I realize the cutthroat nature of this business and the produce-now mentality, and we haven't done it," Harrington said.

Artose Pinner ran for 55 yards for the Lions, playing in place of Kevin Jones (elbow). Roy Williams caught a TD pass in the second quarter. Charles Rogers turned a short toss from Harrington into a 35-yard TD to make it 38-17 midway through the fourth quarter.

Before the game, hundreds of fans marched to protest Lions president Matt Millen, who has led the franchise to an NFL-worst 20-58 record the past five seasons.

As promised, many fans wore orange -- Cincinnati's color -- during the game. They chanted "Fire Millen!" throughout the game before most fans decided to head home in the second half.

"We understood what they were after," Williams said. "They hoped we would lose so they could get what they want to happen in management, or with players they want gone. I think their plan went well."


  • Houshmandzadeh said he will play next week.
  • In four games against the NFC North, the Bengals have 18 interceptions.
  • Rogers caught his first TD since Sept. 28, 2003, and had three receptions for a season-high 71 yards.
  • Cincinnati S Anthony Mitchell started in place of inactive Ifeanyi Ohalete (ribs) and DT Shaun Smith was in for inactive Bryan Robinson (foot).
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Somewhere in that sports-drink shower is Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis.
Somewhere in that sports-drink shower is Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. (AP)


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Sun. Dec. 18Final
Scoring Summary
FGShayne Graham 28 Yd, 11:41. Drive: 7 plays, 13 yards in 3:09.
TDKelley Washington, 18 Yd pass from Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham kick is good), 7:52. Drive: 7 plays, 68 yards in 2:41.
TDChad Johnson, 1 Yd pass from Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham kick is good), 2:59. Drive: 7 plays, 45 yards in 2:48.
TDRoy Williams, 5 Yd pass from Jeff Garcia (Jason Hanson kick is good), 12:42. Drive: 9 plays, 74 yards in 5:17.
TDT.J. Houshmandzadeh, 7 Yd pass from Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham kick is good), 9:20. Drive: 9 plays, 71 yards in 3:22.
TDRudi Johnson, 4 Yd run (Shayne Graham kick is good), 9:32. Drive: 11 plays, 64 yards in 5:28.
FGJason Hanson 45 Yd, 5:22. Drive: 9 plays, 38 yards in 4:10.
TDRudi Johnson, 16 Yd run (Shayne Graham kick is good), 11:01. Drive: 6 plays, 52 yards in 3:11.
TDCharles Rogers, 35 Yd pass from Joey Harrington (Jason Hanson kick is good), 6:44. Drive: 7 plays, 69 yards in 4:17.
FGShayne Graham 33 Yd, 1:55. Drive: 9 plays, 22 yards in 4:49.
Players of the Game

C. Johnson
Rec 11
Yds 99
Avg 9.0
TD 1

R. Johnson
Rush 24
Yds 117
Avg 4.9
TD 2
C. Palmer28/3927432
J. Kitna2/3600
R. Johnson24117233
J. Kitna111011
J. Johnson51005
C. Johnson1909
C. Palmer1808
C. Johnson1199120
T. Houshmandzadeh661116
K. Washington448118
R. Kelly223016
M. Schobel220014
R. Johnson114014
K. Walter112012
J. Johnson3302
J. Garcia13/2113813
J. Harrington6/77710
A. Pinner1555019
S. Bryson1202
J. Garcia1202
C. Rogers371135
M. Pollard342022
S. Vines427012
R. Williams327114
A. Pinner318010
S. Bryson113013
M. Williams1909
C. Schlesinger1808
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
GB 3 Final
BAL 48
ATL 3 Final
CHI 16
PHI 17 Final
STL 16
CLE 9 Final
DAL 7 Final
WAS 35
SEA 28 Final
TEN 24
CAR 27 Final
NO 10
PIT 18 Final
NYJ 20 Final
MIA 24
SF 9 Final
JAC 10
SD 26 Final
IND 17
ARI 19 Final
HOU 30
DEN 28 Final
BUF 17
KC 17 Final
NYG 27
TB 0 Final
NE 28