Updated: 8:25 p.m.
The Bengals will be without one of their top run defenders Sunday in Minnesota when they take on Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL's third leading rusher. After undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a knee problem, defensive tackle Domata Peko is out with the Bengals hoping to get him back in time for the Jan. 3 regular-season finale in New Jersey against the Jets.
Running back Bernard Scott (toe) is also out Sunday, but head coach Marvin Lewis said those are the only two players that won't be available. Lewis said that all tests for safety Chris Crocker (ankle) came back negative.
Peko hurt one knee in the Oct. 18 loss to the Texans, but came back to start the next week. He then sprained the medial collateral ligament in the other knee Nov. 22 in Oakland and that appears to be the knee with which they're dealing. Peko came back to run his consecutive start streak to 43 against Cleveland Nov. 29, but had to leave in the third quarter and this past Sunday against the Lions he missed the first game of his four-year NFL career.
"Sometimes different scans show different things," Lewis said. "They did another scan last week and said probably the thing to do is go in to do a scope."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» The Bengals' nine victories are an eight-win improvement over last season (1-10-1) through the first 12 games. Cincinnati is tied with the 1963 Oakland Raiders (0-12 in 1962; 8-4 in 1963) and the 1999 Indianapolis Colts (2-10 in 1998; 10-2 in 1999) for the best win improvement through 12 games from one season to the next in NFL history.
» With Scott out Sunday, wide receiver Quan Cosby did double duty returning punts and kicks and his first NFL kick return went for 21 yards. Ironically, the man he replaced as Scott's backup, wide receiver Andre Caldwell, fielded the first kick of the day in front of Cosby because it was short.
» Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has seen plenty of Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. Try nine times as the Cowboys secondary coach, once as the Cowboys defensive coordinator and once last year in his current capacity during a 26-14 loss to the Jets in The Meadowlands. Zimmer is 6-3 against Favre, but he took one look at him on film Monday morning and said he looks half his age: "He looks 20," Zimmer said.
Against Zimmer defenses in the nine games that began in 1994, Zimmer's first year in the league, Favre has an 85.8 passer rating on 339 attempts, 204 completions, 2,174 yards, 17 TDs, 8 INTs.
» The Bengals are 1-4 against Favre and that includes the last game he didn't start in the NFL, that Sept. 20, 1992 game in which he came off the bench to rally the Packers past the Bengals in Green Bay on his 35-yard throw to Kittrick Taylor with 13 seconds left. Favre has an 85.6 passer rating against Cincinnati with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions for 1,370 yards. Five of those picks came in the game the Bengals beat him, 21-14 at Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 30, 2005.
» With the Bengals offense expecting one of the loudest welcomes in the NFL at the deafening Metrodome in Minneapolis on Sunday, quarterback Carson Palmer knows they have to clean up an act in which there have been too many false starts and delay of game penalties or else they'll get washed away in the sound.
The Bengals are 0-4 in Minnesota and all but one of the games were indoors. In their first game in Minneapolis on Nov. 13, 1977, the Bengals lost, 42-10, outside at Metropolitan Stadium.
Palmer said the Bengals have to attack the problem first thing Wednesday morning "in walkthrough and install," and "figure out exactly what we're going to do as far as the cadence is concerned."
» Palmer said the delay-of-game penalty that cost the Bengals one last shot at the end zone from the Detroit 21 with 14 seconds left in Sunday's first half happened because "we didn't get a play in." But the Bengals thought since it was a penalty in the last two minutes of the half there would be a 10-second runoff and there would be four seconds left, which is why Lewis had Shayne Graham go out for the 44-yard field goal. But the refs said that rule doesn't apply on a penalty when the clock is stopped.
"I wasn't sure what was going on; it's a gray area rule," Palmer said. "You don't want to get another delay for questioning the ref."
» With the Bengals failing to score a touchdown in 10 of their last 13 red-zone trips, Palmer found himself waxing nostalgically about wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on Monday. Before Houshmandzadeh deemed the Bengals weren't interested until too late in free agency and went to Seattle, he was Palmer's go-to guy on not only third down, but in the red zone in the four seasons from 2004-2007.
"We obviously miss the guy," Palmer said. "He was a great red-zone player. Hard to cover. Precision guy. That's where he was the most effective probably.
"(The red zone is) execution. You have to be perfect down there. The defense has to cover so much less field."
While Houshmandzadeh might have concerned some of the coaches with a temper that could flow at times off the field and into the locker room, Palmer said he and Houshmandzadeh were so in sync through years of being together that "there was one route we ran 10 times a game and we would (complete it) six times a game every week. Week in and week out. They couldn't stop it. So we definitely had a handful of plays like that. He was a dominant inside player. A dominant force in the passing game. "
Palmer also misses a receiver still here, but injured, in Chris Henry and says the passing game would look different with him.
"Absolutely," Palmer said. "Aside from him getting touches, he spreads the field and changes game plans. He's a different guy you have to worry about for different reasons. Sorely missed, but the show's got to go on."