Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The season is over. There is no tomorrow, no next week, no next game. There won't be a chance for the Bengals to redeem themselves, a forget this game, until early September.
With 1:43 remaining in the first half, Bengals running back Brian Leonard picked up two yards on the ground, crossing midfield. Depressingly it was the first time that Cincinnati crossed midfield on the game. To really highlight the story of Cincinnati's inept offense, Andy Dalton reached positive yards passing on the previous play with an 11-yard Marvin Jones reception.
This offense was that bad.
A game that strangely offered no targets to wide receiver A.J. Green in the first half and way too much attention to Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals offensive coaching staff offered the worst possible game-plan or was horribly misunderstood by the players who translated the philosophy of execution into a guillotine marked, "lets just go ahead and end the season."
It wasn't until the 10:21 mark in the third quarter that A.J. Green recorded his first reception, posting three receptions for 57 yards on Cincinnati's second possession in the third quarter. The possession moved Cincinnati to the Houston 16-yard line on what was clearly Cincinnati's best showing of the night, which included a 45-yard reception with Green beating Johnathan Joseph by a step. Eventually the possession stalled with a Conner Barwin pass rush that disrupted Andy Dalton's throwing motion, capped by Josh Brown's 34-yard field goal to reduce Cincinnait's deficit to one possession.
Unfortuantely an exhausted defense -- though only forcing Houston into field goals, wasn't the same defense we've seen this season -- was unable to prevent Houston from sustaining gathered momentum, having already been forced on the field for over 26 minutes of the game's first 34:29. Obviously no congradulatory handshakes will be offered to Cincinnati's offense, which didn't offer a possession longer than three minutes until the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati's season was finally crushed when Johnathan Joseph wiped out yet another ineffective possession with an interception leaving 3:13 remaining in the third quarter, leading to Shayne Graham's third field goal, taking a 19-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals mounted a charge with nine minutes in the game, picking up three points to squeeze within one-possession after a 47-yard Josh Brown field goal. After forcing the Texans to punt with 6:26 remaining in the fourth, the Bengals reached Texans 36-yard line on third and 11. Quarterback Andy Dalton overthrows A.J. Green's vertical, clearly open in the endzone, and throws to Marvin Jones on a route five yards short of a first down. Cincinnati turns it over on downs and the Texans expire the clock.
No. The Bengals didn't break trends on Saturday. They still haven't won a postseason game since 1990 and they're still winless on the road during the postseason. This is a hard one to swallow and there's going to be a lot of criticism for Andy Dalton and Jay Gruden and it would be deserved.