Most of what's being said regarding Cincinnati's 20-19 loss to Houston isn't so much how the Bengals collapsed in the fourth quarter; it's how rookie quarterback T.J. Yates largely won the game -- and eventually the division title -- for the Texas.
+ The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty writes:
A fumble that should have been recovered, wasn't. A lead that should have been bulletproof took a round to the neck. An offense that rolled early and often stalled late. A season that for so long defied the odds is suddenly back within expectations. For eight weeks and six wins, the Bengals had destiny's palm in their collective back, pushing them toward the improbable. Not so much since then. Fate does not come with a guarantee, other than it is guaranteed to change.
"It's heartbreaking, you know?" offered Rey Maualuga, in the wake of 19-20, Texans.
Yes, we do.
+ Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports writes:
One of the greatest movie lines ever is one of the last ones from "Chinatown," when one of the characters issues the universal explanation for all things bad and lawless by saying, "Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown." Well, the NFL’s Chinatown is Cincinnati. The Bengals had a chance to maintain control of a playoff spot with a win over Houston, which continues to play the out-of-nowhere Yates. Not only did the Bengals lose, they did it with the help of a penalty in the end by Pacman Jones, of all people (of course it would be Pacman). Now, the Bengals not only have to basically run the table against St. Louis, Arizona and Baltimore, they need both the Jets and Tennessee to lose along the way. Sure, it’s all plausible, but you just have to wonder about the Bengals in these situations. Forget it, Jake – it’s Cincinnati.
Cole later added.
The non-call on a facemask penalty on the final play of the Detroit-Minnesota game wasn’t the only bad piece of officiating. The refs in the Houston-Cincinnati game missed the exact same call in the early part of the second half when Bengals running back Bernard Scott was yanked down by Houston defensive tackle Antonio Smith. Dudes, what were you looking at?
+ ESPN's AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley writes:
That's not to say they're eliminated from the postseason. That's not to say the Bengals will fail to reach the playoffs next season and the next five years after that. But today's 20-19 loss -- make that punch-in-the-gut collapse -- to the Houston Texans illustrates one point: The Bengals aren't ready.
+ Guys that have explaining to do from Clark Judge of CBSSports.com:
Cincinnati defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones. It was his pass interference penalty vs. Jacoby Jones that set up Houston's game-winning TD. Stupid is as stupid does.
+ The Jerome Simpson touchdown dance following his second quarter touchdown.
+ Don Banks of Sports Illustrated writes:
Last week, it was the NFC wild-card contenders who didn't seem to want it, with Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and the Giants all losing, as well as NFC East leading Dallas. But this week it was the AFC wild-card contenders who came up small. The Jets managed to win at home against punchless Kansas City, but the Bengals, Titans and Raiders all came up small, and the Broncos had to rally at home to beat the QB-challenged Bears.
+ Matt Bowen of National Football Post writes praising rookie T.J. Yates:
I will talk more about the Texans’ tomorrow (and their 10-3 record), but how big was it for rookie T.J. Yates to put that final game winning drive together with no timeouts to work with? Huge win for Houston and a situation we have all been waiting to see the rook produce in.
+ Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com writes:
But unlike Dalton, whose best plays Sunday were up-for-grabs throws to the ridiculously talented A.J. Green, Yates has done it mostly without superstar receiver Andre Johnson, who was inactive Sunday after leaving the Falcons game last week because of a hamstring injury. For six of his eight quarters as starter, Yates' top targets have been tight end Owen Daniels, who is very good, and a cast of role players like Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones and Joel Dreessen.