ReFo: Bengals @ Texans, Week 12
It wasn’t the flashiest of performances, but the Bengals came out of Houston with a win and now hold the slimmest of leads in the AFC North. With an inconsistent offense, Cincinnati’s defense held strong, limiting the Texans’ offense to just two field goals, though Houston did its part in that with a wildly inaccurate passing game and a middling run game that was largely abandoned.
There’s room for improvement from the Bengals who have are about to endure a brutal four-week stretch to end the season. They won’t get to play a hampered Ryan Mallett every week, and an absentee pass rush won’t cut it against the quarterbacks that remain on their schedule. A win is a win, though, and when the Dalton-coaster peaks they can play ball with anyone.
Houston’s loss unfortunately leaves them on the outside looking in at the playoff race in the AFC. An apparent pectoral injury to Mallett leaves the Texans once again in quarterback purgatory as they will likely be forced into at least a few weeks of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the 2014 season comes to a close.
Cincinnati Bengals –Performances of Note
A.J. Green, WR: +2.9
Breakdown: Seeing more targets (15) than the next two most targeted Bengals combined, Green put forth another solid day since returning from a toe injury that robbed him of plenty of playing time this year. He was kept quiet downfield with just one catch on a throw more than 10 yards in the air, but Green absolutely tore it up underneath, turning those 15 targets into 12 catches and 121 yards.
Signature Stat: Nine of Green’s 12 catches went for a first down.
Carlos Dunlap, DE: +4.3
Breakdown: On a defense that has struggled to get after the quarterback this year, Dunlap tallied five pressures and the team’s only sack against a Houston passing game that was typically quick to get the ball out. Four total defensive stops highlighted his strong work as part of a run defense that held the Texans to just 3.4 yards per carry.
Signature Play: At 3:34 in the second quarter, Dunlap breezed by Derek Newton and forced a hurried check-down pass which fell incomplete.
Marshall Newhouse, RT: -5.6
Breakdown: Newhouse was inserted back into the lineup when Andre Smith left for good after eight snaps, and he responded with his third consecutive grade in the red. Nobody likes dealing with J.J. Watt in one on one situations, and the offensive play-calling mitigated that as much as possible with a quick-hitting passing game and runs primarily to the left. Even so, the former Packer was outclassed and should Smith miss more time, he appears to be the weak link on otherwise solid offensive line.
Signature Play: 7:59, Q4. The Bengals dialed up a run away from Newhouse’s side, but the overmatched tackle allowed Watt to knife inside and take down Jeremy Hill for a loss.
Houston Texans –Performances of Note
Ryan Mallett, QB: -9.3
Breakdown: This isn’t what Houston had hoped for when they acquired the former Patriot back-up. It’s been since reported that Mallett played through an injured pectoral, but even so this was a disastrous performance. Consistently inaccurate and rarely challenging the defense, his QB rating of 49.2 somehow oversells his performance. He was the beneficiary of three dropped interceptions by a generous Bengal defense (one of which would have scored) and was lucky that Rey Maualuga lost his footing on the one pick Cincinnati did hold on to, as that likely would gone for six as well.
Signature Stat: Mallett completed just five passes over ten yards in the air. Prior to the Texans’ final drive against prevent defense, Mallett had passed for 119 yards.
Jared Crick, DE: +5.0
Breakdown: Watt may get all the accolades, but Crick had an excellent day in his own right. Held in check as a pass rusher, Crick was constantly in the fray against the run, getting the better of both Andrew Whitworth and Clint Boling on several occasions.
Signature Play: Q4, 13:24. Initially doubled by both left side of Cincy’s line, Crick quickly sent Whitworth to the ground before riding sliding outside Boling to take down Giovani Bernard for no gain.
D.J. Swearinger, S: +0.2
Breakdown: Off the heels of a couple of poor performances, Swearinger saw his lowest snap count (59) since Week 2. He made a few nice plays against on Sunday, notably taking down Andy Dalton on an option keeper and on a third down scramble, but with the good comes the bad, as Swearinger was at fault for the Bengals’ longest run of the day.
Signature Play: Q4, 2:55. Down six and desperately in need of a defensive stop, Swearinger over pursued Hill inside (where his teammate Mike Mohamed was ready and waiting) only for Hill to make a nice cut outside and burn the Texans’ defense for 30 yards, setting up a field goal that would put Cincinnati up two scores and effectively end the game.
PFF Game Ball
He wasn’t on the winning side, but as long as J.J. Watt (+8.9) keeps doing J.J. Watt things, there are plenty more game balls where this one came from.