Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns as Cincinnati took down Minnesota, 42-14, on Sunday.
Dalton did so on 27-of-38 efficiency, connecting with A.J. Green twice then Jermaine Gresham and Mohamed Sanu once each for the Bengals (10-5), who locked up a playoff berth for the third straight season thanks to the Bills' 19-0 win over Miami.
In addition, with Baltimore's 41-7 home loss to New England, Cincinnati became AFC North champions for the first time since 2009.
"This team didn't set out to make the playoffs. We set out to try and go to the Super Bowl and that goal hasn't been reached yet. We still have a ways to go," guard Andrew Whitworth said.
Green ended up with team highs of 97 yards on seven receptions, while Marvin Jones contributed 85 yards on six grabs.
"That's a credit to the guys in there and it's an awesome thing," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's one more checkmark we can get off the wall and now is a chance to get another one. I look forward to that. Until you do, people can always take shots at you and now that that's done we can move on to the next one."
Matt Cassel was held to 114 yards, one score to Jarius Wright and three interceptions on 13-of-27 passing for the Vikings (4-10-1), who failed to maintain momentum from their 48-point performance against the Eagles last week.
"We really stunk it up today. This was a disappointing loss," offered Cassel.
Adrian Peterson returned after a one-game absence due to a knee injury and was limited to 45 yards on 11 carries. Cordarelle Patterson added a rushing touchdown in defeat.
Cassel was sacked and coughed up the ball three plays into the opening series, with Carlos Dunlap recovering and racing to the Minnesota 4-yard line. Two plays later, Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis crossed the goal line for a 7-0 game.
Later in the opening quarter, Cassel found Wright on the right sideline for a 36-yard strike. The score was set up by Jamarca Sanford's recovery of a Gresham fumble on the first snap of Cincinnati's previous drive.
The Bengals got back on track two series later. It was 14-7 at the end of the first as Green hauled in a 29-yard pass from Dalton inside of a minute left.
Vincent Rey stepped in front of a Cassel offering intended for Greg Jennings with just under five minutes played in the second and raced 25 yards for a score and a 14-point edge for the hosts. Two plays later, a Cassel pass bounced off a Bengals defender's helmet into the hands of George Iloka at the Vikes' 25.
Cincy didn't capitalize on that possession, but did assume a 28-7 edge on its next drive when Dalton found Gresham in the end zone for a 16-yard TD with 2:22 left in the half.
Giovani Bernard's weaving 41-yard catch-and-run on 2nd-and-9 from the Minnesota 48-yard line preceded a 7-yard strike from Dalton to Sanu and the Bengals led 35-7 early in the third quarter.
The rout continued on Dalton's 2-yard connection to Green later in the period.
Patterson's 35-yard run to paydirt off right tackle to complete the following series was the lone answer for the Vikings.
Dalton's 366 passing yards was his second-highest total this year, with a 372- yard performance at Detroit on Oct. 20 the only one better ... Cincinnati, which hosts Baltimore next week in its season finale, won its seventh home game this season, the most since the 1988 Bengals finished 8-0 at Riverfront Stadium ... The all-time series between Sunday's opponents is tied at six wins apiece ... Cincinnati won without two key members of their defense, as both cornerback Terence Newman and linebacker James Harrison were listed as inactive for the contest.