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Bengal Bytes (12/22): Hanging it up

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The offense was good against the 49ers, but it will need to be even better against Denver. The Broncos are looking for Cody Wallace to be punished for his late hit on David Burton. One of the all-time greats will be calling it quits after the season.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals RB Jeremy Hill on his frustrating season: 'I'm past that' - Cincinnati Bengals Blog- ESPN
Despite the fact they'd just clinched a playoff berth, there was a pall hanging over the Cincinnati Bengals' locker room late Sunday afternoon. There wasn't a lot of hollering. There wasn't much shouting. There wasn't any dancing. There were very few joyful exclamations.

Bengals' defense stands tall in 24-14 win
Carlos Dunlap was one of the first of many Cincinnati Bengals defenders to bear the burden of a home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week – a burden he helped shed in a 24-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday that clinched a playoff berth for the Bengals.

Bengals need AJ McCarron to be special next week against Broncos
It's time to turn the page. Like linebacker Vontaze Burfict said minutes after the Cincinnati Bengals clinched a playoff berth with a 24-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers, "My mind's on the next game." As it should be, because that next game is against the Denver Broncos.

Jackson takes stock of offense with bye on the line
Hue Jackson didn’t get much sleep after Monday morning’s arrival from the win in San Francisco. For a variety of reasons, with one of the prime ones being Sunday’s 242 yards marked the fewest in his 21 victories as the Bengals offensive coordinator. And he says he won’t sleep much this week staring at next Monday night’s (8:30-Cincinnati’s Channel 5 and ESPN) assignment in a Broncos defense ranked No. 1 in everything.

Bengals' James Wilder Jr. Says He Was Racially Profiled at Toy Store
Cincinnati Bengals practice squad member James Wilder Jr. tweeted Monday that he believes he was racially profiled at a Toys R Us in Florence, Kentucky.

AJ McCarron "felt good about" starting debut
If you were looking for high-octane offensive football, Santa Clara was not the place for you in Week 15. The 49ers don’t engage in that sort of thing and the Bengals weren’t going for that look in AJ McCarron’s first NFL start.

Defense, take a bow
The old dog-eared cliché is that everyone else has to step up their game when the quarterback goes down, but the defense turned it into poetry with supreme days from their best players in Sunday's 24-14 victory over the 49ers. Start with Adam Jones, Vontaze Burfict, and Geno Atkins.

Behind Enemy Lines

Broncos continue to sputter in second half of games - NFL Nation- ESPN
The Denver Broncos need better orange slices, different speeches or maybe they just need to stay on the field and skip halftime. Because whatever is going on in the Broncos’ locker room between the second and third quarters, especially with the team’s offense, it just ain’t working.

Denver Broncos safety David Bruton Jr. played with broken leg Sunday
The Denver Broncos' depth at safety took another hit Monday when David Bruton Jr. was diagnosed with a fractured right fibula, an injury he played with for most of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Bruton suffered the injury when Bruton collided with Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib on the defense's 15th play from scrimmage in the 34-27 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday -- there was 1 minute, 58 seconds left in the first quarter when the play started.

Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak: 'Nothing has changed' at QB
Barring any updated information on quarterback Brock Osweiler's sore shoulder, Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Monday "nothing has changed" regarding the team’s quarterback situation. So when the team returns to the practice field Wednesday, Osweiler is expected to be with the Broncos’ first-string offense in preparation for his sixth consecutive start Monday night against the Bengals.

David Bruton believes Cody Wallace should be punished for late hit
David Bruton walked off Heinz Field on Sunday evening bruised and battered from a pair of hits in the first quarter. The first, a collision with teammate Aqib Talib, left him with a fractured right fibula. The second, just two plays later, left many worried Bruton sustained a concussion, if not more. Cody Wallace, Pittsburgh’s offensive lineman, pummeled Bruton with a late, helmet-to-helmet hit.

Random Bytes

Suspended Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon arrested for 4th time
Suspended Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon is facing more legal issues after his fourth substance abuse arrest. According to an Ardmore (Oklahoma) Police Department arrest report, police performed a traffic stop on a 2015 Jeep Wrangler that Blackmon was driving because of a non-working brake light at 3:46 a.m. ET. The report said the officer smelled alcohol and asked Blackmon and the passenger, identified as Reginald Thompson, if they had been drinking.

Odell Beckham Jr. of New York Giants suspended one game
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been suspended for one game for his actions during Sunday's game against the Panthers in which he drew three personal foul penalties. The NFL announced the suspension late Monday afternoon.

Charles Woodson to Retire: Latest Details, Comments and Reactions
Defensive back Charles Woodson will officially call it quits after the 2015 NFL season. The 39-year-old playmaker announced his retirement Monday, capping what will almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. The Oakland Raiders shared the news on Twitter.

Tyrann Mathieu will miss the season with a torn ACL
The Arizona Cardinals' dream season will continue without one of its brightest stars. Coach Bruce Arians announced Monday that Tyrann Mathieu will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. It's a devastating turn of events for one of the most versatile and most valuable defensive players in the entire league. The "Honey Badger" was enjoying a true breakout campaign that highlighted his incredible playmaking ability in coverage and against the run.