Rapid Reaction: Vikings 30, Bengals 10

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cincinnati Bengals felt they would learn a lot about themselves with back-to-back games against division leaders, the Minnesota Vikings this week and the San Diego Chargers next week.

But on Sunday, the Bengals didn’t impress in the first challenge.

The Bengals (9-4), one of the NFL's biggest surprises this year, were dealt a harsh dose of reality during a 30-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings (11-2). Many around the league were wondering if Cincinnati had what it takes to be an elite team. But the Bengals blew an opportunity to prove themselves in Minnesota with too many penalties and overall inefficient play.

Despite the loss, Cincinnati remains in the running for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Bengals currently trail by a half-game to the San Diego Chargers (9-3), who will play the Dallas Cowboys later this evening.

Next week the Chargers will play host to the Bengals in another huge game with tiebreaker implications. But Cincinnati will need a much better effort on the road next week in order to beat another quality team.