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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: Cincinnati 17, Kansas City 10
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Chad Ochocinco's touchdown catch with 2:03 left in the fourth quarter was the difference, as the Cincinnati Bengals clinched the AFC North title with a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Carson Palmer completed 17-of-25 passes for 139 yards, with two scores and an interception, for the Bengals (10-5), who last won the division in 2005. It is Cincinnati's second division championship since it won the then-AFC Central in 1990.
The Bengals clinched the title Sunday with their first victory this season against a conference opponent outside the division. Cincinnati was 6-0 against the North this season, but just 0-4 versus the rest of the AFC before Sunday.
"No Gatorade, no hat," Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis said of the title celebration. "We want to earn a hat, there's two more to earn. That's what I told them. Enjoy it, congratulations, but there's two more to earn...this group knows there's more out there."
Cedric Benson ran for 133 yards, and Laveranues Coles had a touchdown reception as the Bengals snapped a two-game slide and won in their first home game since the death of Chris Henry on December 17.
Matt Cassel was 22-of-37 for 180 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, as the Chiefs (3-12) lost their fifth consecutive game. Jamaal Charles had 102 rushing yards, while fullback Tim Castille recorded the first receiving touchdown of his career.
"I know we're making progress," Cassel said. "The unfortunate thing is, we're fighting, we're fighting, and we're fighting, we haven't been able to come out of here with a victory yet. But we'll continue to get better, this is a good football team and this was a good test for us today."
Castille made his catch just eight seconds into the final quarter to tie the game, 10-10. On 3rd-and-10 from the Cincinnati 20-yard line, Cassel floated a pass over Castille's shoulder, and the fullback held on to the ball as he was hit in the end zone.
After each team punted, the Bengals took over at their own two with 9:21 to play, but went on the game-winning drive despite poor field position. Palmer completed an eight-yard pass to Brian Leonard to convert a 3rd-and-7 from the five, and converted a third down on the next series with a nine-yard pass to Andre Caldwell.
From there, Cincinnati started picking up yardage in big chunks, as Palmer went to Coles for 21 yards, and Benson ran for 20 on the next play. The Bengals eventually got inside the 10, and were faced with a 3rd-and-goal from the six.
Ochocinco lined up on the right side and ran a crossing route over the middle, where Palmer spotted him. The quarterback threw slightly behind the receiver, but Ochocinco leaned back to grab it and landed in the end zone with the ball to cap the 98-yard drive.
The Chiefs still had 2:03 on the clock and two timeouts, getting across midfield without using either. But Cassel's deep pass for Chris Chambers was picked off by Leon Hall with 1:06 to play, and the Bengals ran out the clock from there.
The first half was nearly devoid of offense, particularly for the Bengals, who gained just 53 yards and got only a 29-yard field goal by Shayne Graham with 1:38 left in the half. The Chiefs had 166 yards in the half, but managed only a 30-yard kick from Ryan Succop with five seconds left, making it a 3-3 game at the break.
The Bengals, however, found an offensive groove on the opening drive of the third quarter to go in front. They went 77 yards in 10 plays, the last being a 10-yard grab by Coles over the middle, making it 10-3 nearly six minutes into the frame.
Cincinnati linebacker Rey Maualuga suffered a broken ankle, ending his season...Bengals running back Larry Johnson, released by Kansas City in November, had just 11 rushing yards in his first game against his former team...Ochocinco ended with four catches for 31 yards, and now has 9,952 career receiving yards...Lewis got his 56th win with the team, passing Paul Brown for second all-time in franchise history. Sam Wyche, with 61, is the winningest coach in team history...Chiefs rookie tight end Jake O'Connell recorded his first career catch.
12/27 23:23:31 ET
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