The Texans prevailed Saturday in the second meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals. For all intent and purpose, the Bulls on Parade defense is the primary reason why the Texans are advancing to the next round. The defense had Andy Dalton’s number the whole game and they smothered running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. This left the Bengals offense in check all game long. The Texans defense forced the Bengals to go three and out frequently and completely shut them out on third down every time. The only third down conversion was a pass interference call on Shiloh Keo that was a questionable call. The defense recovered however, forcing another third down, and eventually a turnover on downs when the Bengals tried to convert on fourth and eleven.
Despite the Texans’ dominance on defense, the Bengals were kept in the game by the overly conservative play calling of Head Coach Gary Kubiak. The first four possessions only netted the Texans a total of nine points in the first half, NINE! Not a single offensive touchdown was scored the entire first half. A potential touchdown pass was dropped by Andre Johnson on third down. It was a heart breaker, but the Texans should have scored before third down. Whether you attribute the offensive struggles to the play calling or simply the strong defense of the Bengals, there was clearly disorganization on the offensive for the Texans. They got their first touchdown about four and a half minutes into the third quarter on a punch-in by Arian Foster. This was the Texans second touchdown in FOUR weeks. The short screens on third down ultimately failed and Kubiak’s ultra-conserative nature cost the Texans early.
Kubiak also wanted to focus on scoring touchdowns rather than having to settle for field goals, and that was certainly not the case. The Texans made Shayne Graham earn his pay today, kicking a total of four field goals. The Texans left so many points on the field, it nearly cost them the game had Andy Dalton connected on one of his many heaves into the end zone. The offense is however very sound outside of the red zone. The Texans need to be able to punch it in if they expect to have any chance to win. If they scored on all the four field goal drives, the Bengals would have never had a shot. The game would have been put away earlier rather than coming down to the wire, with the Bengals one play away from taking a late lead. Every field goal just felt like a failure on the drive. All-pro Hall of Fame quarterback, and three time Super Bowl Champion Troy Aikman once said, “Every time we kicked a field goal, I felt we were that much closer to losing.”
If the Texans expect to have even a shot against the Patriots, they need to handle their business on offense and put points on the board. Tom Brady and the stout New England offense will be more of a challenge to the defense and will certainly put up more than two field goals offensively.
– Richard Perez