January 21, 2018

Colts 26, Bengals 10

The third game on wildcard weekend featured the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana to take on the Colts.  These teams met earlier in the year and the Colts came away with a dominating 27-0 win.  Kicker Mike Nugent sent the opening kickoff nine yards deep and return man Josh Cribbs ran it out to the 29-yard line.  Quarterback Andrew Luck led his offense onto the field and quickly completed a short pass to running back Daniel Herron that went for 18 yards.  A neutral zone penalty on the Bengals and more completions to Herron moved the ball to the Cincinnati 40-yard line.  With all the success Herron was having, Luck threw another pass to him and this time it went for a gain of 27 to give the Colts a first down at the 13.  Three plays later, Herron took it up the middle for a two-yard touchdown.  Kicker Adam Vinatieri made the point after and the Colts led 7-0 with 11:05 to go in the first quarter.

The Bengals started their first drive of the game from their own 20.  Without wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham, they would have to rely heavily on their running game.  From the 20, running back Rex Burkhead ran up the left side for a gain of 23 yards.  Three carries by running back Jeremy Hill netted 11 yards and a first down at the Indianapolis 46-yard line.  But the drive would come to an end at the 39.  Punter Kevin Huber got off a high punt that was downed at the nine-yard line.

This time, the Bengal defense played much better and forced a three and out.  Punter Pat McAfee hit a nice 59-yard punt that was fielded at the Cincinnati 25 by return man Adam Jones.  He returned it one yard and the Bengals took over at their 26.  Quarterback Andy Dalton completed two passes to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and they quickly moved to the 45-yard line.  Hill ran up the right side for a gain of 18 and a first down at the Indianapolis 37-yard line.  Dalton found Burkhead across the middle and he was dragged down at the five-yard line.  Two plays later, Hill ran up the middle for a one-yard touchdown.  Nugent made the point after and the game was knotted at seven with 1:28 to go in the first quarter.

Due to a poor kickoff return by return man Zurlon Tipton, the Colts started out at their nine-yard line.  On third and three from the 16, Luck couldn’t find an open receiver and ran up the middle for an 18-yard gain.  Two completions to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton moved the Colts down to the Cincinnati 20-yard line.  Some more bad news arose for the Bengals.  Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga injured his hamstring and did not return.  The drive came to an end at the 20 as Luck’s pass for wide receiver Reggie Wayne fell incomplete.  Vinatieri had no problem making his 38-yard field goal attempt and the Colts led 10-7 with 12:41 to go in the second quarter.

After a three and out by the Bengals, the Colts got the ball back at their 36-yard line.  On second down from the 38, Luck went deep up the right side and the pass was caught for a gain of 45 yards by wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.  But they couldn’t find the end zone again and the drive stalled at the Cincinnati 11-yard line.  Vinatieri came on and his 29-yard field goal was good. The Colts now led 13-7 with 8:34 to go in the second quarter.

The Bengals punted on their next possession and the Colts took over at their nine-yard line with five minutes to go in the half.  Completions to Hilton, Nicks and tight end Dwayne Allen moved them to their 31.  From the 31, Luck hooked up with Hilton again for a gain of 25 yards.  It certainly looked like the Colts were going to add to their lead before halftime.  But that wasn’t the case.  Luck completed another pass to Herron and as he was heading up-field, the ball was knocked loose and recovered by safety Reggie Nelson at the Cincinnati 41.  With time running short, the Bengals managed to get in field goal range and Nugent came on for a 57-yard attempt.  The kick bounced off the left upright and went through.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kicker that happy.  At halftime, the Colts led 13-10.

The second half was an absolute disaster for the Bengals.  Although their defense played admirably, the offense was horrible.  They couldn’t get a first down and it wouldn’t surprise me if Huber has a sore leg from all that punting.  I’d like to write about some of the drives they had, but they only gained 20 yards on their first five possessions of the second half.  Meanwhile, the Colts continued to rack up more yards on the ground and through the air.  Rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief caught a 36-yard touchdown pass and Vinatieri added two more field goals to give the Colts a 26-10 win.

For the Bengals, Andy Dalton completed 18 of 35 for 155 yards.  Giovani Bernard led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 46.  As a team, the Bengals rushed for 110 yards on 21 carries.  I really thought Jeremy Hill was going to get a lot of carries in this game.  He only carried the ball 13 times for 47 yards and a touchdown.  Defensively, Emmanuel Lamur led the team in solo tackles with six.

For the Colts, Andrew Luck had all day to throw and completed 31 of 44 for 376 yards and one touchdown.  Daniel Herron led the team in receptions with ten and T.Y. Hilton had the most receiving yards with 103.  As a team, the Colts rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries.  Herron was the leading rusher with 56 yards on 12 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Jerrell Freeman and safety Mike Adams tied for the lead in solo tackles with seven apiece.  Freeman also had 1.5 sacks.

Up next for the Colts is a trip to Denver to take on the Denver Broncos.  That game will be on Sunday at 4:40 eastern time.


Go Back to Ohio, You Ugly, Striped Things, You

Bears Beat Bengals (And Were Very Good Sports About It)

The Chicago Bears defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-21, at Soldier Field on Sunday giving Marc Trestman a victory in his first NFL regular season game as head coach and, for the first time since hockey season, providing all Chicagoans with a guiltless excuse to ignore the White Sox and Cubs.

They don’t play hockey in Cincinnati and for many years it could also be reasonably argued they didn’t play football either but lately Marvin Lewis’ Bengals have been good, reaching the playoffs the last two years so this opening Sunday victory gives the Bears a shot of confidence and should also boost membership in the Chicago branch of the “I’m Glad I Don’t Live in Cincinnati Club.”

The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks were at Soldier Field for this game and may have provided some inspiration and encouragement to the Marc Trestmans of the Midway but the real reasons the Bears won this game were efficient play calling, forcing turnovers, crisp and clutch passing from Jay Cutler and the Bengals not always playing too bright by wasting timeouts, issuing late hits and wearing those provocative stripes after Labor Day.  It’s always fun to play games against dumb guys unless it’s Russian Roulette or Monopoly because in both those games a lucky guess by the opposition can easily lead to a bullet in your head.

This wasn’t an easy win for the Bears.  They trailed 14-10 at halftime and 21-10 in the second half, unable to figure out that when Andy Dalton steps back to pass and A.J. Green is on the field they’re probably up to no good and you have to either double-team Green, kick Dalton in the face, or try to convince the officials that being slower and smaller than the other guy is some form of discrimination.

The Bears have scored comeback wins in the past but most of those were reliant on the defense making a big play.  This time Cutler was the tallest kid on the bus, leading a couple of cool late-game drives, including hitting his best mate, Brandon Marshall, with the winning score with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.  Other than the Fiat commercial in the third quarter in which a randy crab pinched a bikini lady on the ass, this was certainly the highlight of the afternoon.

The Bears defense does deserve a lot of credit, though.  Cornerback Charles Tillman intercepted Dalton twice, one of which he returned for a touchdown but it was called back because the officials thought he was down, those fence builders.  Chicago’s D also forced a couple of fumbles helping to keep their ugly helmet antagonists away from the endzone for the final quarter and-a-half and we cannot forget Robbie Gould who kicked a career-best 58-yard field goal right before halftime.  Gould is losing his hair but his leg is getting stronger.  Imagine if he played in a dome.  He would be like Morten Andersen or a Rockette or something.

It’s probably not prudent to splatter a lot of analysis (great name for a toy geared toward the children of politicians and economists: “Splatter Analysis” – a wooden doll in a suit who utters controversial judgments when you pull his tie.  How do you defeat “Splatter Analysis?  You don’t, silly!) or engage in wild speculation after just one game but we coughed up the prudence pill with our hash browns in the bathroom at Denny’s this morning so give a brother some slack.  After one game of the Marc Trestman era this can be said for sure: the Bears were the better team at Soldier Field on Sunday and if the Bengals are the best team in the AFC North then the Bears just might go 4-0 against the little conference this season and in some circles, like those drawn in the dirt with the tip of your sneaker while the state trooper rifles through your trunk, that’s sort of like winning the Super Bowl.

Trestman’s Bears are charged with being creative on offense and just good enough on defense, the flipside of the Lovie Smith Bears, the Dick Jauron Bears, the Dave Wannstedt Bears, the Mike Ditka Bears, the George Halas Bears, and all other Bears throughout history and across the Midwest.   So far they’re succeeding.  It’s only one game but it’s nice to be a step ahead.

Small steps.  They can fit inside Bear tracks.


Texans 19, Bengals 13

For the second consecutive year, the Cincinnati Bengals traveled to Houston to take on the Houston Texans to kick off the 2013 NFL playoff season.  The Texans received the kickoff and started at their 16.  After three plays, they punted and the after three plays, the Bengals punted the ball right back to the Texans.  With 12 minutes to go in the first quarter, the Texans started at their five-yard line.  Some good running by running back Arian Foster and an 18-yard completion to tight end Owen Daniels gave them a first down at the 42.  From the 42, quarterback Matt Schaub completed a pass to Foster for eight yards and wide receiver Keshawn Martin took an end around for 18 more to put the ball at the Bengal 38.  The drive was halted by the Bengal defense at the 30 and kicker Shayne Graham was called on for a 48-yard attempt.  The kick was good and the Texans had an early 3-0 lead.

Aside from a 29-yard run by running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Bengals did nothing with the ball as the Texans brought the pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton.  After four plays, the Bengals punted again and the Texans took over at their 31.  Short completions to Foster and Daniels and a 19-yard catch by wide receiver Andre Johnson moved the ball to the Bengal 40.  Three straight runs by Foster and a sneak by Schaub netted a first down at the 16.  Once again, the Bengal defense stiffened and the drive stalled at the nine.  Graham kicked a 27-yard field goal and the score was now 6-0 with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Four more offensive plays for the Bengals meant another punt and the Texans started at their 12.  On third and three from the 19, Schaub looked to his left and his pass intended for fullback James Casey was picked off and returned for a touchdown by cornerback Leon Hall.  Kicker Josh Brown made the point after and the Bengals now  led 7-6 with a little over nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

Foster decided to put the Texans on his back on the next drive and they rode him on a 13 play, 76-yard drive.  Unfortunately for the Texans, they didn’t find the end zone and they had to settle for another field goal attempt.  This one came from 22 yards and it was good.  That put the Texans up 9-7 with two minutes to go in the first half.  Try as they might, the Bengals couldn’t get going and punted again.  The Texans got the ball back at their 11 with a minute to go.  They got as far as the Bengal 41 and on fourth and four, Schaub looked for Daniels, but the pass was knocked away by cornerback Adam Jones.  At halftime, the stats were very one-sided.  The Texans had 250 total yards and the Bengals had 53.  To add insult to injury, the Bengals had minus seven yards passing.  Wide receiver A.J. Green was held without a catch and the Bengals were lucky to find themselves down by only two points.

More of the same for the Bengals in the second half.  Three plays netted minus one yard and punter Kevin Huber came on and punted the ball away again.  The Bengals were flagged for fair catch interference on the punt and that gave the Texans the ball at their 49.  Two runs and an 11-yard pass to Foster gave them a first down at the Bengal 27.  Schaub then hit Johnson in stride for a gain of 22.  Two plays later, Foster took it in for a Texan touchdown.  Graham made the point after and the Texans increased the lead to 16-7.

Starting at their 20, the Bengals finally realized they needed to get the ball to Green.  On first down, Dalton hit Green for five yards.  He found him open two more times for gains of seven and 45 yards.  They finally found themselves in Texan territory.  However, they would not find the end zone this time.  On third and three from the 16, Dalton’s pass was incomplete.  Brown came on and made his 34-yard field goal attempt and the lead was cut to 16-10 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Texans started at their 20 and got as far as midfield when they were faced with a fourth and one.  They decided to punt and the Bengals took over at their 11.  On second and seven from the 24, Dalton looked for Green again.  This time, Green wasn’t looking at Dalton and the pass was picked off at the 40 by cornerback Johnathan Joseph.  He returned the ball to the 26 and that gave the Texans an excellent chance to increase their lead.  A short run by Foster and passes to Daniels and Johnson gave them a first and goal from the nine.  But a holding call and more good play by the Bengal defense forced another field goal attempt.  This one was from 24 yards and it was good.  That made it 19-10 with 14 minutes to go in the game.

A good kickoff return by return man Brandon Tate set the Bengals up at their 39.  Some good runs by Green-Ellis and and an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Andrew Hawkins moved them to the Texan 39.  On fourth and one, Green-Ellis powered his way up the middle for a first down.  The drive would stall at the 29 and Brown made his 48-yard attempt to make it 19-13 with nine minutes to go in the game.

The Texans went three and out and the Bengals had one last shot to take the lead.  Starting at their 20, Dalton found Green for 16 yards and wide receiver Marvin Jones for 15 more.  Some quick running by Green-Ellis got them to the Houston 35.  On third and 11 from the 36, Green got behind the defense and Dalton put up a deep ball for him that was just out of his reach.  That made it fourth and 11 from the 35.  Instead of throwing the ball 11 yards down-field, Dalton dumped a short pass to Jones.  He caught it and was brought down three yards short of a first down.  The Texans took over, got the one first down they needed and ran out the clock.  Final Score: Texans 19 Bengals 13.

For the Bengals, Andy Dalton was pressured all day and forced many bad throws.  He completed 14 of 30 for 127 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.  A.J. Green led the Bengals with five catches for 80 yards.  All those catches came in the second half.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the team in rushing with 63 yards on 11 carries.  All totaled, the Bengals had 80 yards on 16 carries.  Defensively, safety Reggie Nelson led the team with nine solo tackles and two tackles for a loss.  The Bengals led the league in sacks, but they hardly ever got to Schaub and registered zero sacks in this game.

For the Texans, Matt Schaub completed 29 of 38 for 262 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.  Owen Daniels led all receivers with nine catches for 91 yards.  When it came to running the ball, Arian Foster was the workhorse as he racked up 140 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Texans had 158 rushing yards on 39 carries.  Foster also had eight catches for 34 yards.  Defensively, J.J. Watt led the team with five solo tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and two passes defensed.

Up next for the Texans is a trip back to New England to face the Patriots.  They went to New England in week 14 and the Patriots came away with a dominant 42-14 blowout.  The Texans need to play much better this time if they want to advance to the AFC Championship game.  I’ll be back tomorrow morning for a recap of the Vikings-Packers game which is going on as I type this.  Until then, take it easy.

Just Lose, Baby!

The Oakland Raiders headed east once again to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Raiders were coming off a 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints and the Bengals were coming off a 28-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Bengals won the toss and deferred to the second half.

Starting at their 22, former Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer led his team onto the field to a chorus of boos.  That didn’t seem to bother him too much.  What really seemed to bother him was being sacked twice on the five plays they ran on that “drive.”  Lechler punted the ball away and return man Adam Jones returned it 18 yards to the Bengal 42.  A six-yard pass to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and a three-yard run by running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis set up a third and one from the Raider 49.  Remember the no middle defense that the Raiders installed against the Ravens?  Well, this time they inserted the bowling pin defense.  They imagined Green-Ellis was a bowling ball and when he ran up the middle, all the Raiders fell down and let him run into the clear.  He was dragged down at the one-yard line by safety Matt Giordano.  Two plays later, he scored from the one.  Kicker Mike Nugent made the point after and the Bengals led 7-0 with nine minutes to go in the first quarter.

Three more plays by the Raiders netted them a grand total of five yards and they punted again.  The Bengals started at their 12 and on third and six from the 16, quarterback Andy Dalton found wide receiver AJ Green for a gain of 44 yards and a first down at the Raider 40.  Short completions to Sanu and another run by Green-Ellis got the Bengals another first down at the 29.  A holding call moved them back ten yards, but that was just a minor distraction for Dalton who faced little pressure from the Raider defense.  On first and 20, he found tight end Orson Charles for a gain of ten.  Next, he found tight end Jermaine Gresham for 27 yards to set up a first and goal at the two.  Then he tossed a pass into the corner of the end zone to Sanu for a touchdown.  Nugent made the point after and the Bengals led 14-0 with three minutes to go in the first quarter.  The look of defeat was already in the eyes of the Raiders.

The teams traded punts on the next few possessions and the Bengals started their next drive at their 11.  The Bengals dinked and dunked their way down the field with some more good running by Green-Ellis and completions to Gresham.  On third and three from the Raider 42, Green-Ellis ran up the left side for a gain of four and a first down.  Running back Cedric Peerman was inserted into the game and on second and eight from the 36, he ran up the right side for a gain of 31.  On third and goal from the five, Dalton found Sanu wide open in the end zone for yet another Bengal touchdown.  Nugent made the extra point and the Bengals now led 21-0 with seven and a half minutes to go in the first half.

The hapless Raiders started at their 19 and actually moved the ball into Bengal territory on the strength of some good running and receiving by running back Marcel Reece.  He seems to be the only bright spot for this team nowadays.  But on fourth and one, Reece didn’t get the opportunity to convert the first down.  Instead, fullback Owen Schmitt “ran” up the middle and was promptly knocked backwards for a loss of one.  Hey, at least they got the ball into Bengal territory.  Let us all rejoice in this moment of pure joy and happiness.

The Bengals took over and moved the ball down to the Raider 30.  The drive stalled and Nugent missed his 48-yard field goal attempt.  The Raiders had a little time left to possibly put some points on the board.  But as fate would have it, Palmer was picked off by safety Chris Crocker and it was now the Bengals who had a chance to add some more points.  They did just that as Nugent made a 55-yard field goal to end the first half.  The Bengals moved the ball at will and the Raiders had no answer for them.  I was so irate while trying to watch this game that I couldn’t even sit down.  Granted, the Bengals are a GOOD team.  There’s no doubt about that.  But the Raiders made the Bengal offense look like the 1991 Redskins and they made the Bengal defense look like the 1985 Bears.  This was truly a horrible display of football.

The second half started and to my surprise, the Raider defense came with some pressure.  They forced a three and out and the offense took over at midfield.  The anemic offense managed to move the ball to the 37.  That’s where kicker Sebastian Janikowksi blasted a 55-yard field goal through the uprights.  That made it 24-3 with ten and a half minutes to go in the third quarter.  The Raider defense forced another three and out and gave the offense another opportunity to score.  Three plays got them three yards and they punted yet again.  The Bengals took over at their 15 and on second and nine from the 16, Dalton was sacked by linebacker Philip Wheeler for a loss of eight.  A pass to Green on third long fell incomplete and the Raider defense did their job again.

Starting at their own 48, the Raiders finally put together a drive.  Reece ran up the left side for 12 yards.  A false start by right tackle Khalif Barnes moved them back five yards, but Reece ran up the left side for a 15-yard gain and a first down at the Bengal 30.  They’re approaching the red zone!  This is so exciting!  Running back Jeremy Stewart got a carry up the right side for a gain of eight.  Reece got two yards on the next play for a first down at the 20.  The Raiders were now officially in the red zone with a little over three minutes to go in the third quarter.  See?  Miracles do happen sometimes!  But it gets better.  From the 20, Palmer saw the blitz coming and tossed the ball down the middle of the field where it was caught by wide receiver Denarius Moore for a 20-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now trailed 24-10 with two and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Bengals started from their 20 and on third and five from the 25, Dalton was sacked again.  This time it was defensive end Matt Shaughnessy who got the sack.  The Bengals punted and the Raiders had good field position at their 44.  With momentum on their side, they had a good opportunity to make it a close game.  Not so fast, my friend.  On second and four from midfield, safety Reggie Nelson sacked Palmer and knocked the ball loose.  It was recovered by linebacker Rey Maualuga.  That was a crushing blow to the Raiders and the Bengals took over at the Raider 46.  On second and four from the 40, Green-Ellis got loose again and made it down to the one-yard line.  However, the defense held them to no gain on three straight attempts and the Bengals settled for a 20-yard field goal.  That made it 27-10 with 12 and a half minutes to go in the game.

Starting at the 20 and down by three scores, the Raiders had no time to waste.  Two good runs by Reece  and a 26-yard pass to Stewart moved the ball to the Bengal 39.  A 12-yard pass to Reece got them to the 27.  That’s when a bogus clipping penalty on guard Mike Brisiel moved them back 15 yards and really knocked the wind out of their sails.  They were forced to punt and with just under nine minutes to go in the game, the Bengals took over at their 16.

This is when the drama started.  On third and six from the 20, Dalton found Sanu on the left side.  As he turned to head up-field, cornerback Joselio Hanson knocked the ball loose and tipped it to keep it from going out of bounds.  Safety Tyvon Branch picked it up and ran it in for an apparent touchdown.  But due to an “inadvertent whistle,” the play was blown dead.  The replay clearly showed that a whistle did blow while Hanson was trying to keep the ball in bounds.  I’m not sure why the idiot zebra blew his whistle, but he did.  When that happens, that means the ball is dead and the play is over.  That also meant the Raiders didn’t get a touchdown and the play cannot be challenged.  The Bengals now had the option to replay the down.  They did just that and a false start was called on right tackle Andre Smith.

Apparently defensive end Lamarr Houston didn’t hear the whistle and took Dalton down to the ground.  This did not sit well with left tackle Andrew Whitworth and he went after Houston.  A huge brawl broke out and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly of the Raiders and defensive tackle Geno Atkins of the Bengals came off the bench to join in the fun.  This lasted for several minutes and brought back fond memories of a forgotten sport known as “hockey.”  After it got cleaned up, Whitworth, Houston and Kelly were all ejected from the game.  Why wasn’t Atkins?  He came off the bench too.  Whatever.  After the mess got cleaned up, it was third and 11 at the 15.  Dalton looked for Green and found him for a gain of 48 yards and a first down at the Raider 37.  Five straight runs by Peerman gave them a first down at the 11.  On third and six from the seven, Gresham caught a pass on the left side and made it into the end zone for the score.  Nugent made the point after and the Bengals won 34-10.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 19 of 34 for 146 yards, one touchdown, one interception and one lost fumble.  Marcel Reece led the team in rushing with 74 yards on 15 carries.  As a team, the Raiders netted  99 yards on 23 carries.  Reece also had 29 yards receiving.  Jeremy Stewart was the leader in receiving yards with 37 on six receptions.  Defensively, rookie linebacker Miles Burris led the Raiders with seven solo tackles.

For the Bengals, Andy Dalton completed 16 of 30 for 210 yards and three touchdowns.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the team with 129 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown.  All totaled, the Bengals rushed for 221 yards on 34 carries.  AJ Green led all receivers with 111 yards on three receptions.  Rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict led the defense with four solo tackles.  The Bengal defense pressured Palmer throughout the game and he was sacked four times.

The loss dropped the Raiders to three and eight and the Bengals improved to six and five.  Well, what else is there to say about this dreadful loss to the Bengals?  One bright spot is the defense made some nice adjustments at halftime, but the offense looked terrible throughout the game.  Despite their improved play in the second half, the defense still gave up some big plays in key situations.  The Raiders have three home games in a row coming up and next on the schedule is the Cleveland Browns.  They are coming off a big win over the Steelers and will be looking for another win.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they do get another win in Oakland.  Until next week, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

Texans 31, Bengals 10

Houston Texans fans had to wait a very long time for their team to make it to the playoffs.  It was worth the wait as the Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 for their first ever playoff victory.

After a 39-yard field goal by Texans kicker Neil Rackers tied the game at ten with 1:48 remaining in the half, the Bengals weren’t content to go to the locker room with the score tied.  That was a costly mistake.  With 52 seconds remaining, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went looking for wide receiver A.J. Green.  His pass was picked off and returned for a 29-yard touchdown by defensive end J.J. Watt.  That play gave the Texans all the momentum they needed and they shut out the Bengals in the second half.

The aggressive Texans defense shut down the Bengals running game and harassed Andy Dalton throughout the game.  Dalton completed 27 of 42 for 257 yards, no touchdowns and he was picked off three times.  As a team, the Bengals finished with just 76 yards rushing.  Starter Cedric Benson had 14 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.  He spent most of the second half on the sideline.  Brian Leonard led the team with three carries for 34 yards and also had six catches for 36 yards.  A.J. Green led the team with five catches for 47 yards.  Most of those catches came in the first quarter and he was held to one catch in the second half.  Linebacker Thomas Howard led the Bengals with six tackles.

For the Texans, quarterback T.J. Yates won the battle of the rookie quarterbacks as he completed 11 of 20 for 159 yards and one touchdown.  Running back Arian Foster had a huge game with 153 yards on 24 carries and touchdown runs of eight and 42 yards.  He also caught three passes for 39 yards.  As a team, the Texans slashed the Bengal defense for 188 yards on the ground.  Wide receiver Andre Johnson made his presence known and led the team with five catches for 90 yards and a 40-yard touchdown.  Linebacker Brian Cushing led the team with eight tackles and one tackle for a loss.  The Texans ended up sacking Dalton four times.

The next game for the Texans will be at Baltimore to face the Ravens on Sunday, January 15th at 1 P.M. Eastern time.  These teams met in week six and the Ravens came away with a 29-14 win.  In that game, Foster was held to 49 yards rushing on 15 carries and the Ravens racked up 400 yards of total offense.  Will things be different when they play next Sunday?  Time will tell.