Entering last night’s showdown for Monday night football, everyone saw on paper arguably the most efficient quarterback in football, Andy Dalton aka The Red Rifle teamed with the best two-headed run game in football (Hill and Bernard). A receiving core boasting endless weapons in star AJ Green, second tier receivers Jones and Sanu and pro bowler to be at tight end, Tyler Eifert. The defense with stalwarts Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap leading the charge, stacked with pass rushing talent and a hard-hitting secondary. An 8-0 Bengals team that was primed for a huge blowout win over a far inferior opponent in primetime, at home, right?
The junior varsity squad, I mean Houston Texans were coming to town with an abysmal record of 3-5. They had no real quarterback to lead them and no running game with all pro running back Arian Foster down. How could they possibly come in and keep it so close, let alone win? It’s the National Football League; that is how.
The defense of the Houston Texans follows its fearless leader into battle each and every Sunday. JJ Watt gallantly takes charge, and the rest of the defense falls in line attempting to almost will the team to a victory every week. They have not allowed a touchdown in nearly 3 entire games! That’s astonishing, especially for having an offense as dysfunctional as theirs. The Houston defense set the tone from the very first series. They were prepared to keep the Bengals’ exceptional run game at bay and force the passing game to win it. Achieving this goal they made Cincinnati one dimensional and pressured Andy Dalton to drop back for countless 2nd or 3rd and long plays. This put the Bengals offense right in the hands of JJ Watt, and the Texans pass rush. They were given the ability all game to go after the quarterback fearing nothing of the run game.
Once yet another quarterback from that Houston rotation came in, TJ Yates, after the starter Brian Hoyer went out with an injury. Yates had nothing to lose and this game needed a big play to bust it open. He clearly had this in mind, and Yates sent the ball beaming down the field for a gorgeous one-handed touchdown grab to Hopkins on the far side of the end zone. A tiger’s back was broken, and the nail was put in the coffin. At this moment the Texans defense knew, they had the game. Watt and co. were very aware that it only took one big play, one touchdown and they feel they could do the rest.
Is this a signal to all of Texans Nation for a turnaround season? Not in the slightest bit. You all will still be in the top 8 of the 2016 NFL Draft hopefully drafting a quarterback. It does, however, prove again that you do have an entirely capable team in need of one thing, a leader at the helm, in the huddle and taking ownership of the offense.
There is certainly no reason to panic Cincinnati. The Bengals of the 90s have not returned. What you witnessed last night was one of the most balanced teams in football (Bengals) fall short against a team with nothing to lose and a defense that can keep them in any game(Texans). As mentioned before, Houston has not allowed a touchdown in nearly 3 full games. It was not a surprise that the Bengals were struggling to find pay dirt. It was not a surprise to see the Bengals excellent defense keep them in the game and continue to try and give the offense a shot at putting up more points. It was no shock that DeAndre Hopkins, one of the greatest young talents in the game today, was able to attack the Cincy defense for a few punishing plays to push them to a win. And let’s not forget the countless drops from Eifert and the costly fumble from AJ Green in the game ending drive for the Bengals. So let’s just keep it all in perspective. The division is still yours, and the playoffs will be here before you realize you’re done opening presents on Christmas morning. So, don’t stop that chant. Who dey?!