Vikings clinch NFC North with emphatic 34-7 win over Bengals

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Mike Zimmer was about ready to be done with his quest to become an National Football League head coach, discouraged after so many fruitless interviews.

The Vikings return home Sunday for a noon (CT) matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals as Minnesota once again tries to clinch the NFC North.

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The scene immediately before Bridgewater entered the game was an emotional one on the Vikings sideline, with player after player-led by Keenum-stepped up to offer words of support and encouragement. He reflected on the advice he gave Zimmer nearly four years ago, before the Vikings came after him. Rudolph's status improved the past two days and he finished with two catches for 17 yards and a touchdown. "You respected it because he was consistent in how he coached the five-time Pro Bowler to the rookies". The cornerback has helped contain a number of big-time receivers this season, including Michael Thomas (45 yards), Antonio Brown (62 yards), Mike Evans (67 yards), Sammy Watkins (36 yards), Golden Tate (29 yards in two meetings), Julio Jones (24 yards) and Mohamed Sanu (43 yards). That's when they turned things over to their backup quarterback, inviting what might have been the loudest roar of the season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Case Keenum exited the game in the fourth quarter with the Vikings leading the Bengals 34-0.

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Minnesota wrapped up the division for just the second time this decade, having also claiming it in 2015. Griffen has 61 career sacks, good for seventh all-time in franchise history.

Lewis is the second longest tenured coach with the same team behind Bill Belichick, who is in his 18th season with the New England Patriots. Minnesota can make it No. 20 with a victory Sunday against the Bengals. With head coaching jobs likely to open up across the league this offseason, chances are Lewis will be a fairly hot commodity for teams looking to reboot their staffs.

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