Coming into this game, nobody expected the Houston Texans, second place in the downtrodden AFC South with a record of just 3-5 to come into the house of the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals and knock them off. But never say never. With another fantastic effort by their defense, Houston kept Cincinnati out of the end zone and extended their streak to ten quarters without allowing a touchdown to outlast the Bengals 10-6.
Never in NFL history had three teams started a season 9-0, which is what the Bengals were trying to accomplish tonight. But they were undone by predictable play calling and mistakes in the passing game, as well as a ground attack that did not take advantage of a weak Texans run defense. Giovani Bernard ran for just 36 yards on eight carries and Jeremy Hill ran for just 15 on seven carries. Andy Dalton was actually the second leading rusher with 30 yards.
Mike Nugent hit a 42 yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Bengals a 3-0 lead, answered by a 22 yarder by Nick Novak to tie the game at three. The Bengals had a defensive stand after the Texans moved the ball inside the five for a first and goal. Before half, Nugent hit a second field goal from 39 yards.
In the fourth, after Brian Hoyer had left the game with a concussion, T.J. Yates hit DeAndre Hopkins for the only touchdown of the game on a spectacular catch on the sideline in the end zone and hung airborne for a long time but managed to catch the ball and get both feet in bounds for the score.
At the end of the game, the Bengals had a chance to save their undefeated record. They got the ball with just under four minutes and drove into Houston territory and had fourth down inside the thirty yard line. A.J. Green caught the ball and had the first down, but Quentin Demps came over and stripped the ball as the Texans recovered with just under a minute to go to seal the win.
Houston also had very little success on the ground with starter Alfred Blue gaining just 22 yards on 12 carries. Jonathan Grimes led all rushers with 33 yards on six carries, including a long of 14 yards.
Both teams had 256 yards of offense and 16 first downs, but the fumble at the end is what doomed the Bengals. The Texans threw an interception at the end of the half, and the Bengals threw one early in the second half on a deep ball that got tipped up and intercepted by Johnathan Joseph.
With this win, Houston is now tied for first place in the AFC South with Indianapolis Colts at 4-5. Next week, the Texans go home to take on the struggling New York Jets. Cincinnati is still firmly in first in the AFC North and heads to the desert on a short week to take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night Football.