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The Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) kept alive their playoff hopes with a 20-13 victory over the struggling St Louis Rams (2-12). The game started slowly, with the Rams leading 6-3 at half-time, with a touchdown yet to be scored. Mike Nugent leveled the scores early in the third quarter with another field goal, laying the foundations necessary for the Bengals to begin to dominate the game.
Cincinnati moved up into a higher gear and registered two rushing touchdowns, the first from Bernard Scott on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter, and the second from Cedric Benson on a 4-yard run early in the fourth. St Louis did manage to score a consolation touchdown late in the game, though, with Kellen Clemens finding Danario Alexander with a 25-yard touchdown pass.
There was little to separate the two teams in the running game, with Benson and Steven Jackson collecting 76 and 71 yards respectively on the ground, but the Bengals were able to fall back on the increasingly reliable A. J. Green. The rookie wide receiver managed 115 yards on just six receptions, and continues to set the league alight in his first season. Green is one of the major factors in fellow rookie Andy Dalton’s success so far this season.
Safety Quintin Mikell dominated the Rams defense, registering eight solo tackles, as well as forcing two fumbles as he tried to keep the Rams in the game against a versatile Bengals offense. Both teams’ offenses generally struggled during the game, highlighting a shared inability to convert on third down, with the Bengals only able to move the chains 27% of the time, and the even worse 15% conversion rate of the Rams.
The victory keeps the Bengals in the race for a wildcard spot in the A.F.C. playoffs, and will be a reassuring influence on the young Cincinnati team after they must have feared that their recent poor form was going to take away any chance they had of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Rams continue to have a terrible season; the consistency of star running back Jackson is one of the only highlights in what will become a season to forget for St Louis.