The Texans scored the game’s only touchdown when rookie Deshaun Watson busted out a 49-yard run to put his team up for good. It wasn’t a pretty game, but Houston got the win and improved to 1-1. Cincinnati fell to 0-2.
Final score: Texans 13, Bengals 9
J.J. Watt sums up the Bengals’ offensive efforts on the final play of the game.
Texans 13, Bengals 9 A long, methodical Texans drive led to another field goal, which just might be enough to ice the game.
The Texans simply refuse to put away the game, doing nothing on offense. Fortunately for them, the Bengals also can’t move the ball, so neither team is getting close to scoring position.
Third quarter: Texans 10, Bengals 9
Nothing else of note happened in the quarter.
Texans 10, Bengals 9 The Bengals’ offense finally showed life in their first drive of the second half, with Dalton marching the team down the field and chewing up plenty of clock. Tyler Eifert nearly had the team’s first touchdown, but officials ruled he stepped out of bounds before catching the ball, making it a penalty. The Bengals got yet another field goal.
Second quarter: Texans 10, Bengals 6
Texans 10, Bengals 6 The Bengals save a little face after their defense got burned by Watson, kicking a field goal at the end of the second quarter.
Texans 10, Bengals 3 Watson finally breaks the game open with his legs, taking off on a scramble and going 49 yards to the end zone.
Watson gets his biggest “welcome to the NFL” moment, courtesy of Geno Atkins.
Nothing really happening in this game. Some poor play by Watson and Dalton, who have been off with their throws most of the night. It’s a classic Thursday Night Football slopfest.
Texans 3, Bengals 3 Cincy can’t take advantage of Green’s huge play and settle for a field goal, scoring their first points of the 2017 NFL season.
First quarter: Texans 3, Bengals 0
Dalton ended the quarter with a beautiful bomb to A.J. Green, who beat three Texans defenders because he’s A.J. Dang Green.
Texans 3, Bengals 0 John Ross’s first NFL carry could not have gone any worse. Kareem Jackson punched the ball out of his hands and Jadeveon Clowney scooped it up for a 49-yard return, setting up the Texans in field goal range.
It’s been an unventful game so far, but at least we had this nifty punt return.
Took until the 7:36 mark, but we finally have a first down in this game. D’Onta Foreman did the honors for Houston with a 9-yard run. However, the drive stalled out when Watson ate a sack on third and long.
The Bengals also started three-and-out when Andy Dalton got sacked on a cornerback blitz on third down.
The Texans went three-and-out on their opening drive, with Watson misfiring on a couple throws.
Before the game
Two teams with big questions behind center meet at 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday in Cincinnati (TV: NFL Network, NBC in Houston and Cincinnati markets) with hopes of turning around a gruesome start to their 2017 seasons. The Bengals and Texans each got underwhelming performances from their quarterbacks Sunday, and somehow the worst showing wasn’t from a career backup or rookie passer, but veteran Pro Bowler Andy Dalton.
Dalton was historically bad against the Ravens, turning the ball over five times in a 20-0 home rout. His lowest moment came late in the fourth quarter where, facing a fourth-and-5 situation, he scrambled away from pressure and simply threw the ball away, eliminating any chance for a miracle comeback.
Texans quarterbacks Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson weren’t much better. Savage’s reign as the team’s starter lasted exactly two quarters before head coach Bill O’Brien decided he’d seen enough and inserted Watson in his place. Savage was bad — 7-of-13 passing for a meager 62 yards — but it wasn’t all his fault. Houston’s cheesecloth offensive line allowed him to be sacked six times in just two quarters.
Although Watson was able to lead the team to its only touchdown of the game, he didn’t fare much better. He was sacked four times and needed 23 passes to gain just 102 aerial yards. However, the rookie passer has a much higher ceiling than his veteran counterpart. Savage can be an effective game manager, but Watson’s uber-productive career at Clemson showed just how explosive he can be.
Houston has an ace in the hole thanks to a dominant defense that will have to get back on track after allowing Jacksonville to ring up 29 points. J.J. Watt made his return to the field after missing most of 2016 with a back injury that required two separate surgeries, but made only one tackle in the opener. He also missed time after a hand injury that “busted the bone through the skin.”
Despite that horrific description, he only missed a quarter of play.
Watt will work to get back to his Defensive Player of the Year standard against Dalton, who was sacked five times last week. Will the Texans’ ferocious pass rush be enough to bully the Bengals into another dire offensive showing? Or can Dalton make enough plays to lead his team past a rookie quarterback in his first-ever start?
- Need a reason to watch Thursday night’s game? We’ve got six.
The Texans haven’t been able to find a franchise quarterback since their inception in 2002. During the 2017 NFL draft, Bill O’Brien and the Texans decided to try their hand at trading up to No. 12 to draft Deshaun Watson. After the offense couldn’t move the ball with Tom Savage under center against the Jags in Week 1, Bill O’Brien — known to have a quick trigger — pulled Savage from the game for Watson, who was then named the starter for Week 2.
- The Texans decided not to pay left tackle Duane Brown this offseason. On Sunday, their offensive line gave up a ludicrous 10 sacks.
Houston can’t do anything about its rivals’ upgraded defenses, but there’s an easy fix that will allow Watson or Savage a little extra security — the team can pay Duane Brown. Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler, has been an anchor of the team’s offensive line since 2008, protecting the blindsides of passers like Matt Schaub, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick at left tackle.
- Houston should keep playing Watson — partially because he’s the better quarterback, but mostly because he’s WAY more fun.
Watson was the best player in Clemson history, and he almost destroyed the Alabama Death Star in 2015’s national title game before he finished that job in a rematch a year later. Not only was a bad word never spoken about Watson. His teammates advocated for him relentlessly, and his head coach said that passing on him would be akin to passing on Michael Jordan.
- Tom Savage’s agent doesn’t agree his client should be benched just because he’s bad at football.
“I didn’t feel that the coaching staff defended Tom or defended his performance and I would love to sit down and watch the film with Bill O’Brien and go through every single play and tell me why are you benching him after 31 plays?”
- The Texans have started more quarterbacks than anyone since 2014 (yes, even the Browns).
The Browns have had eight different starting quarterbacks in that timeframe. Deshaun Watson will make it nine quarterbacks for the Texans when he starts Thursday night against the Bengals.
- Dalton’s Week 1 performance looked much more like one of his terrible playoff starts.
Forget the turnovers. The low point for Dalton came on fourth-and-five with four and a half minutes to play in the game. He threw the ball away. On fourth down.
- Here’s everything you need to know about the Texans, courtesy of Battle Red Blog.
If — and that's a big "if" — the Texans can get any sort of lead and force the Bengals into passing situations, you should see all three of these pass rushers making life difficult for Andy Dalton. If Terrell Suggs can abuse Cedric Ogbuehi as thoroughly as he did last Sunday, surely J.J. Watt can do the same, right?
- And the same about the Bengals, courtesy of Cincy Jungle.
Heading into this season, perhaps the single biggest concern for the Bengals was their offensive line. Last year the unit underperformed, and they lost their two best linemen from that group to free agency in this past offseason. Former All-Pro and Pro Bowl LT Andrew Whitworth joined the Rams, while RG Kevin Zeitler went to the Browns. I’m not giving Dalton a pass for the bad throws, but he’s likely going to be under duress for much of the season