The Cincinnati Bengals battled to the wire on Monday Night Football but the Houston Texans came out victorious. The 10-6 win knocked the Bengals (8-1) from the ranks of the undefeated and helped the Texans (4-5) keep pace with the Colts in the bunched up AFC South.
After observing a moment of silence for the lives lost in Paris, the Bengals went to work. The night was shaping up to be a defensive struggle. After five plays against J.J. Watt and the Texans, the Bengals were forced to punt.
The Bengals defense wasn’t going to be outdone. Heavy pressure on Brian Hoyer caused forced throws and frustration. An offensive pass interference call on DeAndre Hopkins pushed the Texans back and helped the Bengals get a three-and-out to end the drive.
Two more empty exchanges by the Bengals and Texans finally led to a scoring drive. Cincinnati went on a seven play drive that ended with a 42-yard Mike Nugent field goal to go up 3-0.
Starting at their 18-yard line, the Bengals went on a 15-play drive that took most of the second quarter. But, once again, the Bengals couldn’t capitalize. A Mike Nugent score sent the game into halftime at 6-3.
In the Second half, things got interesting for the Bengals. Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was taken out for concussion protocol and never returned. T. J. Yates took over and rallied the Houston offense.
Yates entered the game and led the Texans on a 9-play 79 yard drive. A banged up Texans offensive line played stout against the Bengals pass rush. After being kept quiet all night by the Bengals defense, DeAndre Hopkins ran a deep route against Adam Jones. As the ball arrived, Hopkins displayed incredible hang time to make a spectacular catch over Jones. The play was reviewed to confirm possession and the Texans took a 10-6 lead.
There was finally some drama to an otherwise drab game. The Bengals got the ball back with 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. Andy Dalton was not having a good night but it had kept the Bengals in the game. He dropped back and looked for his favorite target, Tyler Eifert. The big tight end was open over the middle but dropped the pass. The gain would have been huge and put the Bengals in great field position. Eifert and Dalton missed on a few connections that could have changed the game.
The Bengals worked their way down the field with a good mix of runs and passes, in a no-huddle offense. Another critical conversion came up. On fourth-and-six, Dalton set up in the shotgun. He found Green for a ten yard gain and what looked to be new life for the Bengals. But as Green tried to fight for more yardage, the ball was knocked from his hand by a defender and recovered by Houston. After the play was reviewed, it was confirmed that Green had fumbled. The Texans took over and kneeled to run out the clock. The Bengals were undefeated no more.
J.J. Watt served up the cheesiest and most memorable phrase of the night.
“Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB Gun, and I think we did that.”
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]