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Cincinnati Bengals grades against the Minnesota Vikings

Grading the Cincinnati Bengals performances against the Minnesota Vikings, breaking it down by position.

Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

QUARTERBACK: Andy Dalton was masterful on Sunday, completing 27 of 38 passes for 366 yards receiving with four touchdowns and a passer rating of 136.5. More masterful was his production on third down, completing eight of 11 for 137 yards passing, including a touchdown and a passer rating of 144.9. He converted seven third downs in the air, including five that needed 10 yards or more for the conversion. There's literally nothing more that we could have asked for from Dalton.

Grade: A+

RUNNING BACK: As good as the team's passing game was, the rushing offense was the polar opposite. Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis combined for 44 yards rushing on 25 carries. Mohamed Sanu added three rushes for 12 yards from the "wildcat" formation and Andy Dalton scrambled for another 10. Save for Green-Ellis' rushing touchdown in the first quarter, the running game wasn't productive, but it was effective enough to be mow the clock -- Cincinnati had the ball for 22 minutes and 53 seconds in the second half.

Grade: C-

WIDE RECEIVER: A.J. Green (2) and Mohamed Sanu (1) caught three of Andy Dalton's four touchdown passes on Sunday. Green, Sanu, Marvin Jones and Andrew Hawkins caught 20 passes for 254 yards receiving and three scores.

Grade: A

TIGHT END: Unfortunately, Tyler Eifert left the game with a neck stinger and only posted one catch for six yards. Jermaine Gresham had a touchdown on three receptions, but also a lost fumble and a handful of penalties. Alex Smith and Gresham posted two of the worst run blocking grades for the Bengals Sunday.

Grade: C

OFFENSIVE LINE: Anthony Collins allowed a team-high three hurries, nearly accounting for half of Minnesota's seven pressures. Kyle Cook and Andre Smith posted the two worst run blocking scores. On the other hand, Kevin Zeitler returned to generate the second-best overall performance behind Andrew Whitworth and Collins. In the end, Dalton was pretty clean in the pocket but Cincinnati had no running game to speak of.

Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE LINE: Carlos Dunlap had a shared sack with Domata Peko and the two combined for three hits on the quarterback. Michael Johnson added a pressure but recorded the worst pass rushing score for Cincinnati's defensive line. Wallace Gilberry had a nice third down pressure but that was it. Dunlap also added a batted pass, a team-high four stops (that constitutes an offensive failure) and a fumble returned to the four-yard line. However, the key here is that Cincinnati's defensive front was a contributing reason that Adrian Peterson was so ineffective on Sunday (though we're sure injuries had a big hand in that).

Grade: B

LINEBACKERS: Vincent Rey and Vontaze Burfict were awesome, combining for two sacks with Rey adding a strip-sack and a pick-six. Michael Boley was extremely solid as a run defender and Rey Maualuga added an interception in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B+

SECONDARY: Excellent performance for the secondary. Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel completed less than 50 percent of his passes, generated only 114 yards passing and recorded three interceptions for a passer rating of 32.6 (and that included a first quarter touchdown). Adam Jones only allowed three completions for 20 yards receiving with a handful of deflections. Dre Kirkpatrick allowed a touchdown pass, but he was overall trustworthy for the rest of the game, allowing only one more completion. Chris Crocker allowed four completions, but for only 17 yards and George Iloka caught an interception that was gift-wrapped for him that deflected off Kirkpatrick's helmet.

Grade: A-

SPECIAL TEAMS: Cincinnati's coverage on kickoff returns has taken a nose-dive recently. Admittedly, those returns are coming off some of the better returners in the game, but that's no excuse. Cordarrelle Patterson generated 143 yards on four returns for an average 35.8 yard/return on Sunday. Marcus Sherels returned his only punt 22 yards. On the other hand, Brandon Tate averaged 13.5 yards on two punt returns, which is respectable. Shawn Powell booted four punts, including a 52-yarder but only one inside the 20-yard line with a 40 yard/punt average.

Grade: C-