Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Sunday, December 18, 2011
Wrap-up: Bengals 20, Rams 13

By Jamison Hensley


Thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals at St. Louis Rams:

What it means: In a game that they should have dominated from the start, the Bengals (8-6) shook off a lethargic first half to remain in the AFC wild-card hunt. Cincinnati ended a two-game losing streak and improved to 7-0 against teams currently with a losing record. But it hasn't been easy lately for the Bengals, who gave up a touchdown with 68 seconds left and needed to sweat out an onside kick. It marked the Bengals' first road victory since Nov. 6 at Tennessee.

Running it up: Cincinnati finally broke through against the NFL's worst run defense, gaining 86 yards on the ground and scoring two rushing touchdowns in the second half. Cedric Benson finished with 76 yards and one touchdown. It took a while for Cincinnati to crack St. Louis, managing 24 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first half.

Rookie duo: Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green six times for 115 yards. They became the top rookie quarterback-wide receiver duo since 1991 in receptions and passing yards. Green, though, injured his right collarbone with three minutes left in the second quarter, which seemed to bother him the rest of the game.

Tough on third downs: The Bengals' defense had one of its best games on third downs, not allowing one conversion in the first half. The Rams finished 2-of-13 on third down. Of course, this was against Kellen Clemens, who was picked up on waivers by the Rams two weeks ago.

Poor start: The Bengals actually trailed the two-win Rams in the first half 6-3 because of some uninspired play. In the first half, Cincinnati continually failed on short yardage, including three tries from the St. Louis 3-yard line in the first quarter. Dalton also had an interception, and the Bengals got a punt blocked.

What's next: The Bengals play the Arizona Cardinals, the first of the two home games to wrap up the regular season.