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Despite losing DJ Reader, Bengals defense highlights pivotal victory

The defense got it done without their star run-stuffing nose tackle.

NFL: DEC 16 Vikings at Bengals Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals lost their premier run-stopping nose tackle in the first quarter, but without DJ Reader, this defense had a gutsy enough performance to help claim the team’s eighth victory of the season over the Minnesota Vikings.

The secondary, especially Mike Hilton, had a huge day and had multiple interceptions. Defensive tackle BJ Hill even had a pick for the second straight week. The Bengals forced two turnovers, both interceptions. They also ended with three sacks for 22 yards.

The biggest play of the day was stopping a quarterback sneak in overtime, eventually helping set up the game-winning Evan McPherson field goal. The Bengals also held the Vikings to 5-of-12 on third down. Despite giving up 132 yards on 23 carries to Ty Chandler, Cincinnati’s defense came up huge when it was needed most.

The Bengals allowed just seven points in the first half, which was impressive as well. They also had a pick-six called back due to offsides, a penalty that didn’t really impact the play but only the result. Cincinnati was led by linebacker Germaine Pratt, who had the called-back pick-six. Pratt has 12 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Trey Hendrickson ended with 1.5 sacks as well, while rookie Myles Murphy also picked up a sack.

It wasn’t the best performance, but it was a timely one from Cincinnati’s defense, which will be without Reader for the rest of the season.

The Bengals have now moved to 8-6 and will get a date with the Pittsburgh Steelers next week to potentially further their playoff claim.