The defense got gashed early on a few one step screen passes out to the wide receivers. It’s a great tactic teams have used all year to combat J.J Watt’s pass rushing ability. They held, and forced a punt before the Bengals could move too far down the field. It was a great way to start the game, considering all of the defensive woes the Texans have suffered with all season long.
The Texans came out on offense firing, as Brian Hoyer tossed it up to DeAndre Hopkins. He was then called for the most absurdly questionable offensive pass interference I’ve ever seen. There was no contact made. This is the Texans season though, as well as tight ends dropping passes. Ryan Griffin made his season return, and promptly dropped the first pass thrown his way. The Texans were forced into a 3rd and 16, and ran a conservative draw play to play the field position game.
The defense looked great early, especially against the run. The Bengals got cheap yardage on a pass interference by rookie corner Kevin Johnson, but had nothing outside of that. They held and forced another early punt.
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The offense was abysmal on their second series as well. Three and out, punt. Story of the 2015 season, filled with negative running plays and third and long situations.
The defense then was exposed in the secondary, the Bengals do a great job on offense of mixing up formations and shifting right before the snap to confuse the opposition. They did hold in the red zone on 3rd and 17, forcing the Bengals to settle for a field goal. Bengals went up 3-0 with 1:28 remaining in the 1st quarter.
The offense came out and got a first down, and then had a big play down the middle to Nate Washington for a nice 20 yard gain. C.J. Fiedorowicz then caught a huge pass for another big gain to set up the Texans in scoring territory. Hoyer made a great decision to tuck and run to take the ball down inside the 5 yard line. They stalled with two poor run plays, and then tossed an incompletion so they had to settle for a field goal. The Texans tied the game at 3 with 12:16 remaining in the second quarter.
The Texans then came back out on defense and shot themselves in the foot. They had the Bengals in a third and long, but the drive was extended by a defensive holding on Kevin Johnson. They then had another third down situation, and missed a tackle to stop them and force a punt. The drive continued, and eventually went down and got a field goal out of the drive. Bengals retook the lead 6-3 with 5:26 remaining in the first half.
Texans responded by quickly going 3 and out yet again, putting their defense in a difficult spot with minimal rest.
The defense responded though, and held the Bengals to no points and forced a punt late in the half.
The offense came out an attempted to score some points to take the lead or even the game at 6 before the half with about 30 seconds to go. It resulted in a Hail Mary heave that was picked off in the end zone to complete the first half.
The Texans came out and received the third quarter kickoff. Hoyer completed two passes for first downs, and then it was followed up for a long run for a first as well. They quickly advanced into Bengal territory looking to take the lead. They couldn’t capitalize, and were forced to punt from just inside their opponent’s 45 yard line.
The defense responded, and picked off Andy Dalton to spark life into the team.
The offense came back and quickly moved the ball into Bengal territory yet again, but fell short and were forced to punt.
The defense held, and forced a Cincinnati punt yet again. This game was a defensive struggle from the first snap.
Brian Hoyer left the game and was being evaluated for a concussion, paving the way for T.J. Yates to come in after a short 3 weeks back in Houston.
Yates came in a led the team down to a score, and the lead against the undefeated Bengals early in the 4th quarter. It was one of the best catches of the season, and DeAndre Hopkins yet again showed us all why he’s one of the greatest receivers in the entire league. The Texans took a 10-6 lead with 14:20 to go in the 4th quarter.
The Texans defense promptly stifled the Bengal offense again, and the back and forth between defensive units continued.
The Texans defense completely shut down everyone on the Bengal offense, and it was totally satisfying to watch them play at the level everyone knew they were capable of prior to the season.
The defensive struggled persisted, and both teams traded punts throughout the final period.
The Texans had a chance to seal the game late on a 3rd and 18, but J.J. Watt was held (with no call) and Cincinnati made a key conversion to keep their undefeated hopes alive. The defense forced A.J. Green to fumble after he had first down yardage inside their red zone to seal the best win of the season.
This may be the turning point for the Texans, they showed grit and determination unlike they had all year. This was a season-defining win, and may be looked at later down the road as the spark.
Stay tuned, this is going to be a fun ride.