HOU-CIN Grades: Dalton, Eifert falter in first Bengals misstep
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Texans 10-6 victory over the Bengals:
– Last Thursday, Andy Dalton (-1.1) secured a rare victory in a primetime game, and against the Texans, had the chance to put some of his doubters to bed with another solid performance in front of national audience. Instead, he came up short against the Texans and piled pressure on himself and the Bengals ahead of next Sunday night’s visit to Arizona. Though not helped by a trio of drops from Tyler Eifert, Dalton himself was guilty of some poor accuracy and decision-making of his own to compound the errors of his receivers.
– The Bengals’ safeties were arguably their best players on the field last night, both individually and as a tandem. They combined to prevent Houston a score on a Hail Mary to end the first half, each coming up with a pass defense in coverage and notching a pair of stops apiece. That saw the two tied for third on the team in stops, behind Pat Sims (+1.7) and A.J. Hawk (+1.2), with three stops for their front seven teammates.
– In the Bengals’ victory over the Browns last Thursday night, Tyler Eifert put in a superb performance with a trio of touchdowns to see the Bengals to victory. This week, Eifert’s performance (-6.7) was on the opposite end of the scale, struggling as a run blocker and putting three passes on the ground to add to that. This doubled Eifert’s drop total for the season, with only single drops against the Raiders, Ravens, and Steelers, respectively, before this game.
S Reggie Nelson (+2.9)
S George Iloka (+2.4)
DT Pat Sims (+2.2)
CB Leon Hall (+1.7)
RG Kevin Zeitler (+1.5)
– A low-scoring game is always ripe to be won by a single moment of magic, and last night it was DeAndre Hopkins (+1.3) who provided it, adding to his stellar season. Held without a catch in the first half, Hopkins won the game at the start of the second quarter going up spectacularly over Adam Jones to snag the ball with his left hand, coming down in bounds for the game winning score. Hopkins’ 11 targets saw him back into the league lead with 122 targets through Week 10, already more in nine games than he was on the receiving end of in the entire 2014 season.
– If a defensive combination was going to prove to be the difference-maker for the Texans in this game, you wouldn’t have seen many—or any—suggest rookie defensive lineman Christian Covington (+2.5) and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (+2.8) would be the main contributors. While J.J. Watt (+1.6) got a sack late in the game, it was the combination of Covington and Mercilus working stunts on the left side of the Bengals’ offensive line that generated some consistent pressure in the second half with Covington recording the first sack charged to Andrew Whitworth since the 2013 Wild Card round late in the third quarter.
– The Texans were most effective running the ball between the tackles last night, particularly off the right side (10 carries for 45 yards), thanks in large part to the vertical movement their offensive line generated on Cincinnati’s defensive tackles. Each of Ben Jones (+3.3), Brandon Brooks (-0.1), and Derek Newton (+3.3) earned run block grades of +1.5 or higher, working Domata Peko (-1.2) and Geno Atkins (+0.6) upfield to create space for consistent, solid gains, even if they never opened a clean cutback lane for a big play.
C Ben Jones (+3.3)
RT Derek Newton (+3.3)
S Quintin Demps (+2.6)
OLB Whitney Mercilus (+2.6)
CB Johnathan Joseph (+2.5)