Giovani Bernard had just gained 41 yards on a screen pass, using every trick in his open-field arsenal to reach Minnesota's seven-yard line with 10:40 remaining in the third quarter. Quarterback Andy Dalton quickly timed and unleashed a back-shoulder throw to Mohamed Sanu for a seven-yard touchdown to take a 35-7 lead.
The touchdown was Dalton's 30th of the season, second in franchise history behind Carson Palmer's 32 in 2005. Dalton added his 31st touchdown with 3:26 remaining in the third to wide receiver A.J. Green. If Dalton generates two scores next week against the Baltimore Ravens, he'll set the franchise record for a single-season.
Additionally, the touchdowns marked the fourth straight home game that Dalton has threw three touchdowns or more.
Dalton finished the game completing 27 of 38 passes for 366 yards passing with four touchdowns and a career-best 136.5 passer rating. He also surpassed 4,000 yards passing (4,015) and needs only 117 yards passing next week to break Palmer's 2007 record of 4,131 yards.
Dalton also tied a franchise record for more 300-yard passing performances (5) in a single-season, joining Palmer (2007) and Boomer Esiason (1987). One more breaks that record.
Adding to the narrative, Dalton becomes the fifth quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to the postseason in three consecutive seasons to start a career, joining Pat Haden (1976-1978), Dan Marino (1983-85), Bernie Kosar (1985-87) and Joe Flacco (2008-10).