CINCINNATI—The Detroit Lions suffered their 10th loss of the season 23-13 at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals in a Sunday afternoon battle of first- and last-place teams in their respective divisions at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincy improved to 9-3 on the campaign and is perched atop the AFC North Division while the Lions are stuck in the NFC North cellar.
The two teams started off the contest by trading possessions evenly throughout much of the first quarter. Detroit's opening-period performance was topped by William James' interception of a Carson Palmer pass followed on the very next play by Matthew Stafford's 54-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson for a 7-0 Lion lead at the 3:36 juncture.
The 7-0 Detroit edge stood up until 11:50 remained in the second stanza when Jonathan Fanene hauled in a blocked Stafford pass and lumbered 45 yards to paydirt and a 7-7 deadlock. The Bengals took their first lead at 14-7 with 6:04 to go until intermission after an 8-play, 85-yard drive culminated in a 36-yard scoring pass from Palmer to Chad Ochocinco.
Shayne Graham's 44-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining left Cincinnati up 17-7 as the first half concluded.
The Bengals immediately embarked on a long drive downfield after the second-half kickoff, eating up nearly 7 minutes with 12 plays and taking a 20-7 advantage on Graham's 39-yard field goal with 8:03 left in the third. That margin held up until the end of the frame.
In the finale, Cedric Benson surpassed 100 yards rushing in his return from two weeks off with an injury during a drive that saw Cincy take a 23-7 lead on Graham's 23-yard field goal with 8:15 showing on the clock. The Lions closed to within 23-13 on Kevin Smith's 2-yard TD run followed by an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt with 1:39 to go to set the final score for Detroit.
Now 2-10 on the season, the Lions once again will be on the road to tackle the Baltimore Ravens (currently 6-5) at 1 p.m. next Sunday. That game also will be broadcast live on FOX 17.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, will journey to the Twin Cities at the same time to meet Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings as the leaders in the AFC North and NFC North square off.