CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 11: Marvin Lewis the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals gives instructions to his team during the NFL game against Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Cincinnati’s defense had issues, especially late, against the Houston Texans. Yet that wasn’t always the case on Sunday and a win would have promoted a quality defensive outing. Through Houston’s first 11 possessions, the Texans only registered 246 net yards on offense, or 22.4 yards gained per possession. Additionally Cincinnati’s defense forced four turnovers, two of which translated into 10 points and an early 13-3 lead in the second quarter and five quarterback sacks. By all means a quality defensive effort, save for the game’s final two drives.
One can make the very justified (and relevant) case that Cincinnati’s loss on Sunday was a mixture of mistakes -- largely a failed fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. I can make a much simpler argument that the defense simply failed (or forgot) to play defense during Houston’s final two possessions. Rolls of the bounce are things you can’t always control or account for; screaming at the television for players to fall on the ball doesn’t matter because the guys recovering the football near their own endzone have glorious intentions of scoring a defensive touchdown (a rare occurrence in football as it is). Cincinnati’s significant failure happened afterwards, allowing the Texans to go 88 yards for a field goal, reducing the deficit to within a touchdown.
That being said here’s our five defensive plays of the week (what a segue).
REGGIE NELSON INTERCETPION IN THE FIRST QUARTER
Seven yards needed to convert the third down from their own 23-yard line with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates overthrows (by a mile) Derrick Mason where centerfielder Reggie Nelson intercepts the pass, returning it 23 yards to the Texans 25-yard line. Mike Nugent would eventually convert a 47-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 6-3 lead.
KELLY JENNINGS TACKLE IN THE SECOND QUARTER
Houston was driving early in the second quarter, reaching Cincinnati’s 11-yard line with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half. Running back Ben Tate gets the call on an off-tackle to the right. Houston’s excellent offensive line sealed the inside with Eric Winston sealing Rey Maualuga inside. The linebacker had a serious problem with that, shoving the right tackle to the ground, which inconsequently knocked Kelly Jennings down.
At this point the right edge was open and Tate had an opportunity to score the touchdown. Jennings quickly recovered, making a last ditch effort to push Tate out of bounds. The running back lost his balance and dove beyond the first down marker to Cincinnati’s one-yard line.
Jennings’ tackle was important because it let to…
REY MAUALUGA FUMBLE IN THE SECOND QUARTER
Houston began their fourth possession of the game from their own 10-yard line. And within 11 plays the offense stood on Cincinnati’s one-yard line. Once the snap was made, it would be the last time Houston saw the one-yard line during the possession. Maualuga stoned Tate in the backfield, snatching the football out of the running back’s hands and recovering his own forced fumble.
Cincinnati would respond with a 97-yard drive on 15 plays, capped by a Jerome Simpson 17-yard touchdown reception.
DOMATA PEKO TACKLE FOR LOSS IN THE THIRD QUARTER
It’s time we get Domata Peko in one of these things. With 9:51 remaining in the third quarter and the Bengals holding onto a six-point lead, Houston lines up second and five from Cincinnati’s 48-yard line. Peko cuts inside on the snap, besting guard Wade Smith off the line of scrimmage. The result was an easy four-yard loss on Arian Foster, who was indecisive with the left side of Cincinnati’s defense holding station against the Texans blocking scheme.
The result of the play forced Yates to convert a third and long, which fell incomplete. Cincinnati’s offense responded with a field goal to give the team a 19-10 lead.
BENGALS STOP HOUSTON ON FOURTH DOWN
Early in the fourth quarter with 13:44 remaining, the Bengals secured a 19-10 lead when Houston walked up to Cincinnati’s 32-yard line on fourth and two. Texans quarterback T.J. Yates received the shotgun snap, looked to his right, then his left and began scrambling to his right. Right tackle Eric Winston cut Robert Geathers, which ultimately led to the play breaking down for Houston. Once Yates scrambled, Geathers had recovered from the cut block, forcing Yates to make a decision.
During Yates indecisiveness, Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Jonathan Fanene arrived, knocking the quarterback to the ground and forcing the fumble that Fanene would eventually recover.
What is the defensive play of the game?
Reggie Nelson interception in the first quarter (12 votes)
Kelly JenningsTD-saving tackle in the second quarter (5 votes)
Rey Maualuga forced fumble and recovery (174 votes)
Domata Peko four-yard loss in the third quarter (3 votes)
Defensive stop on fourth down in the fourth quarter (15 votes)
209 total votes