Posted on September 15, 2017, by Travis Pulver
In the past, the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals have played some entertaining and exciting games in the past. If anyone tuning in to Thursday night’s game between the two expected it to be exciting and/or entertaining—well, they must not have seen either of these teams play last week.
The Baltimore Ravens dominated Cincinnati. Houston looked like a team playing its first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Neither played a pretty (or competitive) game in Week One. So, when the two faced off on Thursday Night Football, the expectations were low.
They were not exceeded.
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The game featured eight ‘three and out’ drives between the two teams. Each team converted on just four of 15 third downs. Neither team generated 300 yards of offense, and only one touchdown was scored all night. But let’s be real. We did not expect to see either team do much on offense. We knew it would be a close, low-scoring game and it was. Just like the last time these two met, it was Houston’s defense with a little bit of help from the offense that won the day, 13-9.
Just like the last time these two met, it was Houston’s defense with a little bit of help from the offense that won the day, 13-9.
Deshaun Watson got the start for the Texans and looked like a rookie that could use a little more time learning the NFL game before being pressed into service. He looked like he wanted to run at times, but didn’t. His timing needs work and he is still establishing a relationship with his receivers.
However, it is worth noting, due to injuries he didn’t have a tight end and only had three healthy wide receivers this week.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has said since the draft that Tom Savage was the starting quarterback, but after a disaster of a game last week— by the whole offense, not just Savage – he saw a need for the change. Despite his shortcomings, Watson brings something to the game that Savage didn’t—mobility. With that mobility comes a better chance of keeping plays alive and making plays where Savage would not.
That mobility paid off late in the first half when he ran 49-yards for the game’s only touchdown. The run was the longest for the Texans since 2014. With 67 yards on the ground for the night, he set a new quarterback rushing record for the Texans.
“I was just trying to make a play, I found a hole and broke away,” Watson said after the game.
Watson did get plenty of help from his friends on the Texans defense. Thanks to Jadeveon Clowney’s return in the first half, the team got on the board in the first quarter. The three sacks the defense recorded came when Andy Dalton looked like he might get the Bengals offense on track.
Houston’s defense stuffed the run so well they forced the Bengals to put the game in Andy Dalton’s hands. Throughout his career, Dalton has struggled during prime time games, and this one was no different.
Since Dalton was unable to lead the Bengals offense to a touchdown this week either, Cincinnati now has the dubious distinction of being the first team since 1939 to fail to score a touchdown in their first two games when both were home games.
“Very surprised,” Bengals receiver A.J. Green said (ESPN). “We practice well, but when it comes to the game, we’re out of character. I don’t know what we’re doing out there.”
Houston will need Watson to take another step forward for the Texans to upset the Patriots next week (kickoff at 1 PM ET). Cincinnati will have a big challenge when they head to Green Bay (kickoff at 4:25 PM ET).